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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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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The History of Sociology in Britain

The History of Sociology in Britain

(p.12) (p.13) 2. The History of Sociology in Britain
British Sociology Seen from Without and Within

A. H. Halsey

British Academy

This chapter discusses the battle between literature and science for domination of sociology, a topic that has rather been neglected as a theme in the history of sociology in Britain if also perhaps overheated nowadays in exchanges over relativism between the denizens of ‘cultural studies’ and the proponents of a ‘science of society’. The chapter argues that, traditionally, the social territory belonged to literature and philosophy. A challenge was then raised by science especially in the nineteenth century. Then, especially in the twentieth century, social science developed so as to turn a binary contrast into a triangular one. Sociology had three sources in Western thought: one literary (political philosophy), one quasi-scientific (the philosophy of history), and one scientific (biology). It is no accident that both sociology and social policy were placed first at the London School of Economics, the Fabian institution invented and fostered by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1895.

Keywords:   London School of Economics, sociology, history, political philosophy, biology, social policy, literature, science, Britain, social science

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