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Data in SocietyChallenging Statistics in an Age of Globalisation$
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Jeff Evans, Sally Ruane, and Humphrey Southall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447348214

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447348214.001.0001

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The quantitative crisis in UK sociology

The quantitative crisis in UK sociology

(p.337) 26 The quantitative crisis in UK sociology
Data in Society

Malcolm Williams

Luke Sloan

Charlotte Brookfield

Policy Press

This chapter describes the ‘crisis’ in UK quantitative methods, primarily that as exemplified by sociology, and the response to it over the last two decades, from research identifying the problem in the early 2000s, to the current Q-Step initiative, which aims for a ‘step change’ in quantitative methods teaching. This we describe as a ‘revolution’ and the purpose of this chapter is to assess the likely success of this ‘revolution’. We provide an overview of the projects which aimed to describe, explain and address the crisis. We then briefly sketch out a methodological history of UK sociology, from which we conclude that UK sociology has been predominantly qualitative and humanistic for much of its existence and this, we argue, is a barrier to the success of the current initiatives. Although Q-Step will have increased the number of UK trained quantitative social scientists, who in turn may shape the culture of their departments, grafting number onto existing structures and a prevailing culture of humanism may only have a superficial, or even ephemeral effect.

Keywords:   Quantitative methods, UK sociology, Q-Step, teaching, social science training

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