ERIC Number: ED105044
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1973-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Values, Social Science, and Social Policy. Working Paper No. 21.
Three obstacles appear to frustrate the potential contribution of empirical research and social science to policy formulation. First there is the inherent conflict in the political decision making process; second, reality is so complex it defeats our ability to locate the sphere of understanding which we should apply; third, knowledge presupposes a framework to interpret it; but in a pluralistic system there are only competing frameworks. The work of Kuhn may be relevant for understanding the contribution of social science research to established social policy paradigms. In this paper, the resistance of personal paradigms to change is illustrated, as well as the stubborness of categories of thought despite alternatives suggested by research. Skeptics take this as evidence that only a weak link is possible between research and policy. Optimists argue that such a conclusion is premature. Research undertaken within a common framework of thought can both by contention and concensus influence the development of policy; moreover, research and theory can help reshape policy paradigms as well, but their contributions cannot be isolated from the many other forces that impinge on decisions. The final section illustrates how prior-held frameworks shape the ideals sought (the skeptic's view), the theories of action proposed, and the evaluations undertaken. (Author/JM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Joint Center for Urban Studies, Cambridge, MA.