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Introduction: new directions in social science

Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, and Sanford Schram

In Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, and Sanford Schram, eds., Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-14

There is ferment in the social sciences. After years of sustained effort to build a science of society modelled on the natural sciences, that project, long treated with suspicion by some, is now openly being rethought.

A critical intervention in this period of reflection was Making Social Science Matter (MSSM) by Bent Flyvbjerg, published in 2001. In that book Flyvbjerg challenged the very idea of social science as a science modelled on the natural sciences. Flyvbjerg argued that, as the social sciences study human interactions that involve human consciousness, volition, power and reflexivity, attempts to build generalizable, predictive models such as those for the natural world are misplaced and even futile.

Bent Flyvbjerg