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British Sociology Seen from Without and Within$
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A H Halsey and W G Runciman

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263426

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263426.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
British Sociology Seen from Without and Within

W. G. Runciman

British Academy

For many years, sociology in Britain has been pulled in two opposite directions, by those on the one side who want to make it into a branch of science and those on the other side who want to make it into a branch of literature. There is another two-way pull to which British sociology has been, and continues to be, subjected. This is the vertical pull exerted in one direction by those who want to give sociology its autonomy by taking it up into an intellectual space of its own where the irreducibly ‘social’ is safely detached from psychology (let alone biology) and in the other direction by those who think that sociology can be fully established only if it is firmly grounded in psychology or biology (or preferably both). Despite all these disagreements and tensions, British sociology as a recognized academic discipline does not appear to be at serious risk of being undermined by irreconcilable differences of principle or purpose.

Keywords:   Britain, sociology, psychology, biology, science, literature

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