Cover image for Dictionary of the social sciences
Dictionary of the social sciences
Calhoun, Craig J., 1952-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvi 563 pages ; 26 cm
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


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Material Type
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H41 .D53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



The Dictionary of the Social Sciences is a comprehensive reference work with over 1700 entries ranging from fifty to five hundred words covering topics such as anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, cultural studies, human and cultural geography, and Marxism. The Dictionary is aimed at students and scholars who need ready access to defined terms in a social science outside of their immediate area of expertise, for example an economist needing information regarding a political science term.The question 'What are the social sciences?' is one to which no final answer can be given, since - like other groupings of scientific and academic fields - the social sciences differ in their scope from one generation to another. There are also within-generation differences: witness the continuingcontroversies over whether history should be considered as one of the social sciences or as a humanistic discipline; whether geography is an independent social science or a synthetic discipline that draws upon both the social sciences and the earth sciences; whether law is a social science or a bodyof professional and philosophical knowledge; whether psychology belongs with the social or the natural sciences; and whether psychiatry is a social science or a branch of medicine. While the proposed dictionary will reflect the contemporary concerns of the editors, entries will certainly representsocial anthropology, economics, political sciences, sociology, and statistical methodologies. The Dictinary will necessary avoid a thorough overview of these disciplines - the criteria for inclusion will limit entries to those topics in each area that will be of interest to trans-disciplinary users.A thematically organized bibliography will also be included.'Craig Calhoun is a superb choice as editor in chief. He is a fine scholar, with exceptionally wide-ranging interests in all the social sciences. What's more, he is tied into various "invisible colleges" and cognitive networks that transcend his own primary interest in sociology. I believe that youhave hit upon a prime prospect.'- Robert Merton, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University'I do not know Craig Calhoun personally, but his career suggests he is certainly competent and well-connected. Yes, I do recommend publication.'- David L. Sills

Author Notes

Craig Calhoun is President of the Social Science Research Council in New York. A distinguished sociologist who has taught at the University of North Carolina and New York University, he is the author and co-author of many books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Social science language has become an essential feature of literary studies and the humanities and is increasingly becoming part of the lexicon of the popular media. Today it is difficult to read a newspaper or hear or see the news on the radio or television without encountering terms like civil society, paradigm, real income, or welfare economics. Designed for students and nonspecialists, the Dictionary of the Social Sciences serves to orient readers to the concepts, theories, methodologies, schools of thought, and individuals that define classic and contemporary scholarship in the social sciences. Offering jargon-free definitions of key terms across a wide spectrum of separate, but interconnected, disciplines, the dictionary features more than 1,500 entries ranging in length from 50 to 500 words and covers the vocabularies of anthropology, cultural studies, economics, human geography, political science, sociology, and numerous other important fields within this arena. A lengthy bibliography concludes the volume. See references at the end of the entries provide added value. Despite its ambitious scope, readers are advised that the social sciences are not covered equally in this volume. A careful reading of the preface sheds light on the guidelines that influenced entry selection. For example, law is not included, and history and psychology are treated more selectively than economics, politics, and sociology. The dictionary succeeds because it is a carefully written and researched work, but some readers will need to supplement their use of it with additional and more specialized dictionaries. The last decade has seen the publication of several works that provide coverage of the social sciences in a convenient one-volume format. Among these are The Blackwell Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Social Thought (Blackwell, 1993); The Social Science Encyclopedia (2d ed., Routledge, 1996); and The Dictionary of Critical Social Sciences (Westview, 1999). This volume complements these titles and should be a useful addition to academic library collections, particularly those that support programs in the social sciences. Large public libraries will want to take a look to ascertain its potential usefulness in their settings.

Library Journal Review

Aimed at the academic nonspecialist, this new dictionary does more than provide definitions of key terms, offering entries that also discuss the intellectual issues behind the terms' usage. The entries cover all the social sciences except for law, education, and public administration but are weighted more toward economics and anthropology than history and psychology, with an overall emphasis on interdisciplinary usage. Some 275 biographies are included. Within entries, there are cross references and references to major works, which are given complete listings in the bibliography. The entries are unattributed, and only 11 American contributors are listed, with the rest being unnamed scholars. As author of the well-known textbook Sociology and president of the Social Science Research Council in New York City, Calhoun has solid credentials. However, libraries should purchase this title only if they already own Routledge's The Social Science Encyclopedia. Though it has 600 entries compared with Oxford's 1500, the very usable Routledge has signed articles, twice the number of pages, and a wider scope that includes education, law, business, crime, penology, etc. Another competitor for the same shelf space is the two-volume Reader's Guide to the Social Sciences, which is also in A-to-Z format but is unique in functioning as a review of key books and articles for each topic. Elsevier's recent 26-volume International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences covers the same subject matter in considerably more depth. The Oxford dictionary is recommended for comprehensive collections only.-Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Definitive, comprehensive, one-volume works of this kind are necessary but rare. Sociologist and historian Calhoun (president, Social Science Research Council, New York) has produced this one with the aid of colleagues. His volume attempts to "break down barriers between social science disciplines" and "make social scientific language comprehensible to general readers." It seeks to provide authoritative statements and emphasizes "coverage of those fields that most clearly focus on social phenomena and relations." Supplying more than 1,500 terms with definitions that extend from 50 to 500 words and biographical sketches of some 275 notable figures, the work claims that it far exceeds the number of entries in previous similar works. The system of references is efficient: besides brief bibliographies attached to the unsigned entries, a 40-page bibliography of important monographs concludes the work. There is no index. This work will largely supersede Julius Gould and William Kolb's A Dictionary of the Social Sciences (CH, Jun'65) and complement the much larger Social Science Encyclopedia, ed. by Adam Kuper and Jessica Kuper (2nd ed., CH, Oct'96). A standard for the near future, it is recommended for all academic users. D. G. Davis Jr. University of Texas at Austin