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Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis Paperback – 19 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (19 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521468507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521468503
  • ASIN: 0521168201
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 409,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Built on Flyvbjerg's commitment to social science that 'matters', Flyvbjerg, Landman and Schram's volume enriches the field with theoretical and methodological arguments and case studies extending and contending with each other in diverse locales and levels of social intervention. Anyone interested in socially-transformative social science will gain from it.' Davydd J. Greenwood, Cornell University

'A splendid collection that demonstrates the possibilities of a social science praxis that is contextual, reflexive, normatively engaged and yet also well-theorized and powerfully illuminating. A bracing step toward social understanding that is not straight-jacketed by the nomothetic cannons of laboratory science.' James C. Scott, Yale University

'This book and this mission are of utmost importance and urgency. Phronesis, only phronesis, can save social science. We have no other hope.' Nassim N. Taleb, Polytechnic Institute of New York University and author of The Black Swan

'What an important book! Bent Flyvbjerg and his collaborators have taken a decisive step forward in developing social scientific enquiries informed by an Aristotelian concept of phronesis. Their case studies disclose how much has remained invisible to other modes of enquiry.' Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame

'A landmark book in phronetic social science, expanding creatively on Flyvbjerg's innovative ideas through further theoretical elaboration and, most important, exemplary and insightful empirical applications. Eight case studies concretize phronetic practice and open new paths for moving beyond static social scientism.' Edward Soja, University of California, Los Angeles

'Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis is the much-needed practical counterpart to the theoretical and methodological arguments advanced in Bent Flyvbjerg's (2001) Making Social Science Matter … The power of the book is in the case studies. The collection successfully conveys a profound collective wisdom across the various cases, substantiating the book's argument that in-depth, case-based research leads to a deep and actionable practical wisdom … With this volume, the contributors show that phronetic research is not a marginal, 'soft' or niche paradigm. These authors are big hitters, tackling socially significant questions with high stakes, and making [a] major academic and social impact. I felt … wiser after reading the book. I think that anyone interested in understanding how complex projects really work, or how to do research that makes a social contribution, would do so too.' Flora Cornish, LSE Review of Books (

'This is an important book that addresses case-specific critical research theory, research methodology and ethical research practice.' Michael Gunder, Planning Theory and Practice

'Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis presents itself as a cure for social scientists suffering from physics envy. Edited by Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram, the book assembles a rich collection of essays, which all purport to articulate a conception of social science as 'phronesis' … it does not only provide a theoretical discussion of the phronetic approach but also shows phronesis in action.' Arthur Dyevre, European Political Science

Book Description

Real Social Science is a major development in a novel and thriving field of research. Presenting a range of examples of a new, hands-on approach to social inquiry, this book will be required reading for students and academics across the social sciences who want to make a difference in practice.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Starfish57 on 13 Jan. 2013
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Highly recommended; this follows Flyvbjerg's earlier work and offers glimpses into projects based upon the methodologies associated with phronesis. This was a worthwhile investment for my sociology library.
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By Jay on 26 Jun. 2015
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Advances a worthy program 13 July 2013
By Kent Myers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The phronetic program is an important effort to raise social science out of its morass of irrelevant academic game-playing. The philosophical basis for the program was presented in prior work; this collection is meant to demonstrate the productive consequences. It mostly succeeds in its own terms, though readers acculturated to the status quo are unlikely to be moved and may dismiss the work (incorrectly) as mere participatory inquiry, applied design thinking, or some other more familiar deviation that doesn't directly challenge mainstream practices. There is enough theory to help the reader catch up, along with a wide tasting of applications. Flyvbjerg on megaprojectsts, Griggs and Howarth on airports, and Olsen et al on amnesty prove the worth of the method, while other articles on small-scale and peripheral issues are interesting but less important. The final chapter on next steps is candid about weaknesses and underdeveloped aspects while also identifying areas of high potential. Young social scientists seeking the good through authentic scholarship might profit by aligning themselves with this program.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great reading in phronesis studies 11 Aug. 2013
By Chava - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is my introduction to Bent Flyvbjerg's work. I'm used to reading and thinking about "practical wisdom" in the health care field (practice and caring) so it's pleasure to read the extension of phronesis when looking at policy, design and other macro mediums. The essays and studies are exciting to read.
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