Does social science influence social policy? This is a topic of perennial concern among students of politics, the economy, and other social institutions. In Effective Social Science, eight prominent social researchers offer first-hand descriptions of the impact of their work on government and corporate policy.
In their own words, these noted political scientists, economists, and sociologists—among them such influential scholars as James Coleman, Joseph Pechman, and Eliz Ginzberg—tell us what it was like to become involved in the making of social policy. These rich personal narratives, derived from detailed interviews conducted by Bernard Barber (himself a veteran of the biomedical poliy arena), illuminate the role of social science in diverse areas, including school desegregation, comprehensive income taxation, military manpower utilization, transportation deregulation, and the protection of privacy.
The patterns traced in this volume indicate that social science can influence policy, but only as part of a pluralistic, political process; effective social research requires advocacy as well as a conducive social and idealogical climate. For anyone curious about the relationship between social knowledge and social action, this book provides striking illustration and fruitful analysis.
BERNARD BARBER is professor at Barnard College and the Graduate faculties at Columbia University.