Interpretive social science: An overview

Frank C. Richardson, Blaine Fowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mainstream social sciences in the 20th century have always been highly fragmented, with considerable isolation among disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and political science and many disconnected islands of theory and research pursued within each field. Today, even more fundamental epistemological questions about the nature of human action or social life and the proper way to explain or understand it are hotly debated and remain quite unresolved. This article argues that it may be helpful broadly to classify diverse approaches to social or human science as (a) explanatory, (b) descriptivist, (c) critical, (d) postmodern/social constructionist, and (e) hermeneutic or interpretive approaches to such inquiry. Every such typology is shaped by its own epistemological ideals and value commitments. The authors try to make their commitments explicit and explain some of the ways they feel that an interpretive social science or hermeneutic viewpoint offers a relatively coherent view of social inquiry that assists them in incorporating the virtues and avoiding the limitations of other approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-495
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

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Social Sciences
social science
hermeneutics
Sociology
Islands
commitment
human sciences
Psychology
political science
social isolation
typology
sociology
psychology
Research
Hermeneutics
Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Interpretive social science : An overview. / Richardson, Frank C.; Fowers, Blaine.

In: American Behavioral Scientist, No. 4, 01.01.1998, p. 465-495.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Richardson, Frank C. ; Fowers, Blaine. / Interpretive social science : An overview. In: American Behavioral Scientist. 1998 ; No. 4. pp. 465-495.
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