In complex contemporary societies social science has become increasingly interwoven into the whole fabric of governance. At the same time there is an increasing recognition that attempts to understand the social world which seek to mimic the linear approaches of the conventional 'hard sciences' are mostly useless given the complex systems character of society in all its aspects. This book draws on a synthesis of critical realism and complexity theory to examine how social science is applied w and how it might be applied in the future in relation to social transformation in a time of crisis. A central argument is that there is such thing as a 'pure' science of the social and that a recognition of the inevitability of application imposes obligations on social scientists wherever they work which challenge the passivity of most in the face of inequality and injustice.
David Byrne is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy in the School of Applied Social Sciences in Durham University. He has worked as an academic and in community development, and has been an inner-city municipal councillor. His interests are in the transition from industrial to post-industrial society and in the methodological programme of the social sciences as this can be applied to understanding social issues and helping social action, and he has published widely on these subjects.