Politics of Social Research
Publication Date: 01-10-2006
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DescriptionPolitics of Social Research addresses itself to the question of the behavior appropriate for social scientists conducting research sponsored by or otherwise involving government agencies—our own and those of other countries. The simple patriotism that suggests that social scientists, like other citizens, should not hesitate to put their skills at the service of their government is questioned here and by practitioners. This is partly because of outright disagreement with government policies and partly because of the threat to independence posed by massive government funding. As this book plainly shows, the problems are especially acute for social scientists working abroad, where they are viewed as de facto representatives of American policy while at the same time they must accommodate to the policies of foreign governments.
Beals begins by describing specific and precipitating problems—Project Camelot and other research undertakings that met with difficulties—and a general review of the kinds of problems people engaged in social research encounter (concealment and misrepresentation, nationalism and colonialism, protection of subjects, etc.) These problems are then placed in historical and ideological perspective. This reveals differing views of the relationship between social scientists and government and the meanings and uses of various kinds of research.
The book also contains a survey of the particular problems encountered by research social scientists in each of the major areas outside the United States. First published in 1969, and here reissued with a new introduction, this volume remains essential reading for all who are concerned with improving the responsible use of social research by governments, while safeguarding the freedom and integrity of the research and the researcher.
Ralph L. Beals was chairman of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alan Woolfolk is director, core curriculum at Oglethorpe University, Atlanta.
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