Description - Experiments in Knowing by Ann Oakley
This important book explores the history, ideology and implications of methodology or 'ways of knowing' in the social and natural sciences. It extends arguments developed in the author's previous work that divisions between 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' methods are unhelpful in the pursuit of useful knowledge, and that a major challenge facing scientists, academics and the public today is the need to scrutinize the claims professionals of all kinds make to possess effective expertise. The rejection of 'quantitative' and experimental ways of knowing, in particular, prevents us from understanding both the parameters of social inequality and the effects of professional interventions in people's lives. As a methodological position adopted by feminists, postmodernists and others, it obstructs the development of a critical and emancipatory social science. Oakley examines the historical development of methodology in the social and natural sciences and argues that these disciplines have been subject to a process of 'gendering'. This has produced an ideological reaction against, rather than a relevant understanding of, the role of 'quantitative' and experimental methods.
She suggests that there are considerable problems with a retreat into 'qualitative' methods as offering a more democratic way of knowing. A strong focus on the development, uses (and abuses) of experimental ways of knowing provides a critical analysis of current public understandings in this area; the book demonstrates that many early developments using the experimental approach took place in social science, and not only in medicine, as is commonly believed. Experiments in Knowing fills an important gap in the methodological literature, and is likely to generate considerable debate. It addresses themes of common interest across many different fields, including social policy, health and education research and women's studies.
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(229mm x 152mm x 21mm)
Publisher: Polity Press
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Author Biography - Ann Oakley
Ann Oakley is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy and Director of the Social Science Research Unit, University of London Institute of Education.