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The Rules of Sociological Method (Contemporary Social Theory) Paperback – 25 Nov 1982

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Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; New Ed edition (25 Nov 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333280725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333280720
  • Product Dimensions: 348 x 40.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Before beginning the search for the method appropriate to the study of social facts it is important to know what are the facts termed 'social'. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Syddy1 on 7 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am doing a combined social science degree, A lot of it involves Emile Durkheim, I found this book very helpful and am able to refer to it again and again. It was in good condition and promptly delivered. Thank you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lives up to expectations 8 Dec 2008
By Daniel Douglas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Durkheim is probably one of the few people who should be allowed to call his book 'The Rules' for Sociology and get away with it. Durkheim's positivism, though I can't agree at every moment, does much to inform the aspiring social scientist about the objects of his/her pursuit. The translation from the French was effective and Luke's introduction is a good frame of reference for both the author as a whole and the specific piece. If you want to understand one of the driving forces behind sociology as it is done today, this is a good point of departure.
Very disappointed 21 Sep 2014
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book fell apart the first time I used it. Almost every page has fallen out already. I am very disappointed. I needed this book for class.
Four Stars 2 Aug 2014
By aclement - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The book was in good shape, as it claimed.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Social properties and social facts 22 Jun 2009
By not a natural - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Rules of Sociological Method is an uncompromising and compelling polemic against methodological individualism. It argues that explanations of human behavior are not invariably reducible to individual-level factors. Instead, social facts, real social phenomena which are more than just convenient short-hand terms for aggregated entities have an existence of their own, produce predictable social outcomes, and do not rest on the heads and hearts of individual human beings.

By way of providing a speculative contemporary illustration, it has been reported that suicide rates among American soldiers in Iraq are higher than in previous conflicts. Could this be due to the the fact that the character of individual soldiers has changed such that the one's fighting in Iraq are less capable of withstanding the merciless stress of combat than soldiers in earlier wars? It's possible. But can we think of a plausible, in principle testable, alternative explanation that is social in character and does not rely on reference to individual traits?

The war in Iraq is unique in that National Guard and Reserve units comprise 40 percent of the total fighting force. With the exception of the very beginning of the Korean War, the National Guard and Reserve have not played a combat role in past conflicts, being kept at home for domestic duties. When compared with the regular army, National Guard and Reserve units are poorly trained, lacking in discipline and conditioning, very short on experienced officers and non-commissioned officers, and commonly use obsolete, poorly maintained equipment.

Because of these deficiencies, when National Guard and Reserve units are thrown into combat, they perform ineffectively, with high casualty rates and little success in attaining their assigned objectives, which may be ambiguous to begin with. As a result, instead of becoming a more unified and cohesive fighting force with close interpersonal ties and a shared culture of effective combat, the units tend to disintegrate. Their experience is characterized by cultural chaos and loss of social anchorages; a shared set of experientially determined norms of combat does not develop. In other words, to use concepts taken from Durkheim, the National Guard and Reserve units tend to be anomic (culturally deregulated) and egoistic (devoid of a sense of belonging).

All this, including higher suicide rates, anomie, and egoism are the opposite of what one would expect of an effective fighting force. Instead, we would expect an experientially determined culture of effective combat to be shared by the members of such a unit, and strong interpersonal bonds of membership would be forged among them.

Durkheim's own empirical research demonstrated that groups characterized by dysfunctional levels of anomie and egoism were also characterized by comparably high suicide rates. Varying levels of anomie and egoism were the social forces. Comparably varying suicide rates were the social facts. Anomie and egoism as social properties cannot be reduced to individual characteristics, because they are properties of social systems. These inherently social properties are manifest in social facts, such as suicide rates which vary in predictable ways.

Too much, I think, has been made of the inherently positivistic character of Durkheim's perspective. Yes, it is positivistic to the core, relying on good quality measurement an sound statistical analysis. But all that just puts it in the mainstream of American sociology. Besides, even the most stringently positivistic research requires interpretation, and Durkheim's interpretations, following from his preliminary theoretical work, are simply brilliant.

As an addendum, since I wrote this review, I have been informed by current members of the Guard and Reserves that my take on typical deficiencies of units to which they belong is informed too much by things I saw when I was drafted in '65 and too little by a much improved current state of affairs. As a result, it seems best to take my characterization of Guard and Reserve units as hypothetical, as in IF they were as described ... For those now serving, I apologize for being stuck in a decade long past.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nice one 5 Aug 2013
By Adegbemisola Oladunjoye - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived through the promised shipping method and as promised. It was very useful for the purpose I got it for.
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