Science and Social Science

  • John Law
  • Peter Lodge


We have argued that the social sciences cannot be distinguished from the natural sciences in terms of their explanatory structure. They are both properly causal in idiom, just as they avoid the temptation to explain the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ in different idioms. Yet there are few who would disagree that the social sciences look different from the natural sciences. Their credibility is lower, their status less secure and their disputes more public. In this chapter we offer a tentative explanation for these differences that is consistent with the network theory. Not surprisingly it is an explanation in terms of social interests and their distribution. First, however, we want to offer an example of different social science approaches to what is apparently the same phenomenon.


Natural Science Social Control Network Theory American Football Correspondence Theory 
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  1. Marx was concerned with civil society’s need for workers to obtain more free time—not only for pure leisure but also for recuperating their strength and applying themselves more vigorously to productive work after reasonable rest and recreation. (James Riordan, Sport in Soviet Society, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1977)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Paul Hoch, Rip Off the Big Game (Doubleday, New York, 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Jay J. Coakley, Sport in Society (C. V. Mosby Company, St. Louis, 1978),.Google Scholar
  4. Rick Barry and Bill Libby, Confessions of a Basketball Gypsy (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1972), in which Barry refers to himself and other professional basketball players as slaves ‘Slavery is slavery no matter what the slave is paid’.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Harry Edwards, Sociology of Sport (The Dorsey Press, Homewood, Illinois, 1973) p. 90.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Allen Guttman, From Ritual to Record (Columbia University Press, New York, 1978).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    For some fascinating hints on the processes by which this takes place in natural science see Andrew Pickering, ‘The Role of Interests in High Energy Physics: the Choice Between Charm and Colour’ pp. 107–38 in Karin Knorr, Roger Krohn and Richard Whitley (eds) The Social Process of Scientific Investigation, Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook, Vol. 4 (D. Reidel, Boston and Dordrecht, 1980).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Law and Peter Lodge 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Law
  • Peter Lodge

There are no affiliations available

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