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Usable Knowledge - Lindblom, Charles E. - Yale University Press
Social Science

Series Information
Yale Fastback Series

Usable Knowledge

Social Science and Social Problem Solving

  • Charles E. Lindblom and David K. Cohen
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The problem that gives rise to this book is dissatisfaction with social science and social research as instruments of social problem solving. Policy makers and other practical problem solvers frequently voice disappointment with what they are offered. And many social scientists and social researchers think they should be more drawn upon, more useful, and more influential. Out of the discontent have come numerous diagnoses and prescriptions.

This thoughtful contribution to the discussion provides an agenda of basic questions that should be asked and answered by those who are concerned about the impact of social science and research on real life problems. In general, Cohen and Lindblom believe that social scientists are crippled by a misunderstanding of their own trade, and they suggest that the tools of their trade be applied to the trade itself.

Social scientists do not always fully appreciate that professional social inquiry is only one of several ways of solving a problem. They are also often engaged in a mistaken pursuit of authoritativeness, not recognizing that their contribution can never be more than a partial one. Cohen and Lindblom suggest that they reexamine their criteria for selecting subjects for research, study their tactics as compared to those of policy makers, and consider more carefully their role in relation to other routes to problem solving. To stimulate further inquiry into these fundamental issues, they also provide a comprehensive bibliography.

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