Cover: Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut, from Harvard University PressCover: Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences in PAPERBACK

Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences

Research in an Age of Info-glut

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Product Details


$23.00 • £18.95 • €20.50

ISBN 9780674048218

Publication Date: 04/10/2010


336 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

2 charts


I enjoyed this book very much and I thought it was one of the best books on the philosophy of the social sciences I have read, ever.—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

Kristin Luker has managed to produce a charming and effective manual on how to get through the research process with most of one’s enthusiasm still intact. This is a guidebook for the methodologically bewildered, with an attractive blend of homespun wisdom, illustrated from her own research career, as well as glimpses of herself, her family and her enthusiasms—of which the salsa dancing of the title seems to be one—threaded through a lucid and accessible discussion of the elements of research practice. Although it will be a comforting and useful read for postgraduates, which is its intended market, it is already on my undergraduate recommended list. This is a refreshing and well-judged guide produced by an engaging writer in touch with a long career’s lessons and the changing realities of researching today. For young researchers undertaking their first project or beginning a dissertation, it should prove an excellent guide. The book sets out to rethink the existing conventions of research practice… A great deal of the book’s attractiveness lies in its refusal to pursue the grandiose and the ineffable. Endorsing what used to be called ‘theories of the middle range,’ this approach eschews master narratives and grand theory. A little modest realism about what the aims of social research can be, and ought to be, rather than inflated claims and rhetoric in pursuit of what it hoped to be for so long, goes a long way, and makes for a book that will, I suspect, generate a spirit of optimism in those who fall for its down-to-earth charms… Above all, however, this is a book to enjoy—and for a text on method this is rare indeed. Really enjoyable writing among social scientists is itself, unfortunately, a rarity, and it is a pleasure to welcome into the canon someone who celebrates the teaching role as well and successfully as Luker. Her determined cheer is a tonic, and a perspective well worth fostering in every student approaching the social-research process. More than that, however, she has developed a robust, effective approach to the conduct and practices of research and to the question of how one should prepare for research.—Leslie Gofton, Times Higher Education

An irreverent and engaging mixture of memoir, history of research methods, and ‘how-to’ manual, Luker’s book is chock-full of helpful suggestions to turn an idea (even a half-baked idea) into a meaningful and rigorous research project. The conversational style, the witty style, and the metaphors sprinkled through the pages make the ideas come alive.—Rebecca Klatch, University of California, San Diego

Luker’s book offers a startlingly original and unorthodox take on how to teach research methods, and is funny accessible, and inviting too. It gives a down-to-earth view of how knowledge evolves, how good research questions gel, and how to go about creating a research design. I cannot wait to be able to assign it to my students.—Michèle Lamont, Harvard University

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Jacket: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, by Bruno Latour, translated by Catherine Porter, from Harvard University Press

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In awarding Bruno Latour the 2021 Kyoto Prize for Arts and Philosophy, the Inamori Foundation said he has “revolutionized the conventional view of science” and “his philosophy re-examines ‘modernity’ based on the dualism of nature and society.” Below is an excerpt from An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns. For more than twenty years, scientific and technological controversies have proliferated in number and scope, eventually reaching the climate itself. Since geologists are beginning to use the term “Anthropocene” to designate the era of Earth’s history that follows the Holocene