• Barry Hindess
Part of the Studies in Sociology book series (SS)


CHAPTER 1 of this text examined certain arguments advanced by some sociologists in recent years concerning the production of official statistics and their use in sociology. It was argued that such force as these arguments may possess cannot be restricted to the case of statistical materials but that they must be directed also, and without exception, against all materials used as evidence and against all rational forms of proof and demonstration. In fact, they derive largely from a more general critique of theoretical abstraction in the social sciences advanced by contemporary forms of social phenomenology and ethnomethodology. The latter seek to establish human experience, preferably undistorted by background expectancies, tacit knowledge, and the like, as the foundation of knowledge as against concepts and rationalist forms of proof and demonstration. Where the preferred forms of undistorted experience are thought to be unavailable we are told that objectivity is a mirage. Thus Cicourel has been quoted as stating :

In recognising that we can generate only different glosses of our experiences, the ethnomethodologists try to underscore the pitfalls of viewing indexical expressions as if they could be repaired and thus transformed into context-free objective statements.1


Official Statistic Statistical Material Indexical Expression Positivist Critique Accounting Unit 
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Copyright information

© British Sociological Association 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Hindess
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in Social StatisticsUniversity of LiverpoolUK

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