About Staring into the Middle Distance

If I had to draw an analogy between natural and social science, and sociology specifically, I’d say we’re most like meteorology or climatology. Like them, we deal in large-scale, long-lived complex systems with many parts. Social systems are harder to deal with than the weather, because some of the parts have their own ideas about what they want to have happen. We’re pretty good at stuff at either end of the scale: we understand many long- or very long-range patterns fairly well, and we also know a lot about micro-level interactions in controlled contexts. The middle-range is much messier (and accurate forecasting is probably impossible) largely because of the nature of the beast under study. Unfortunately this is also the bit that people are most interested in getting knowledge about. But even there we have a lot of useful concepts, methods and models that can be applied in a wide variety of contexts, though you need to be careful — Kieran Healy.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: