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Key Concepts in the Philosophy of Social Research

Key Concepts in the Philosophy of Social Research

First Edition

December 2016 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

“This is a splendid book, providing a readable and reliable guide to a very large range of topics and literature... the author brings together, as few of us can, the details of research methodology and practice with broader philosophical perspectives and approaches.”
- William Outhwaite, Emeritus Professor, Newcastle University 

"We need researchers who are philosophically informed rather than philosophically obsessed or philosophically oppressed. With this book Malcolm Williams strikes the exact balance."
- Ray Pawson, Emeritus Professor, University of Leeds

This book is an ideal introduction for any student or social researcher hoping to better understand the philosophical issues that inform social research. Williams is the perfect guide providing short focused introductions to key concepts alongside a persuasive and engaging overview of how we interpret and conduct research.

The book covers everything from core research methods, to ethical concerns and an exploration of the metaphysics of social life, with each entry providing:
  • Clear definitions
  • Engaging real world examples
  • Up-do-date suggestions for further reading
  • Informative cross-referencing
  • Lists of key thinkers. 
Relevant and authoritative, this book is an indispensable introduction to the philosophy of social research.  

Contingency and Necessity
Ethics and Morality
Generalisation and Laws
Individualism and Holism
Interpretation and Meaning
Logic and Truth
Mechanisms and Models
Social Contstruction

The book serves as a very good orientation pool for master and PhD-students to define their theoretical outline for their research objectives.

Professor Sabine Troeger, Dr.
Geography Institute - Library, University of Bonn
March 29, 2021

It provides a useful overview of key concepts students often struggle to get to grips with

Dr Liam Foster
Department of Sociological Studies, Sheffield University
February 5, 2020

It provides a splendidly succinct and readable introduction to the key theoretical and methodological principles that underpin research in the social world. Ideal for undergraduate students taking their first steps into the landscape of social research, and indispensable to the tutor who wishes to avoid sounding precious, like Gollum, in illuminating the way. Appearance is a different matter altogether.

Allan Blake
School of Education, Strathclyde University
January 30, 2020

This is an incredibly useful book for undergraduate students, unfamiliar with the philosophy of social science. My students have found Williams' short essays on difficult concepts to be extremely clear and helpful.

Dr Rebecca Leach
Department of Sociology, Keele University
December 16, 2020

An excellent introduction to complex philosophical social research concepts. Gives students, who are new to research, an accessible text to help them grapple with the terminology and meaning.

Lesley Deacon
Faculty of Education and Society, Sunderland University
February 26, 2019

A useful introduction to the ontological and epistemological problems of social research.

Mr Dan Burrows
Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
September 13, 2016

A very good starting place for students who are just about to start a research project. A must have for those who straggles with understanding different philosophical paradigms.

Mr Leszek Wypych
Bedfordshire Business School, Bedfordshire University
March 3, 2017

Great reference book for all the key concepts in social research. A must have for research based degree units.

Dr Bethany Simmonds
Social, Historical & Literary Studies, Portsmouth University
September 22, 2016

A very good starting place for students who are just about to do a research. A must have for those who straggles with understanding different philosophical paradigms.

Mr Leszek Wypych
Bedfordshire Business School, Bedfordshire University
September 13, 2016

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