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Time Matters

On Theory and Method

What do variables really tell us? When exactly do inventions occur? Why do we always miss turning points as they transpire? When does what doesn’t happen mean as much, if not more, than what does? Andrew Abbott considers these fascinating questions in Time Matters, a diverse series of essays that constitutes the most extensive analysis of temporality in social science today. Ranging from abstract theoretical reflection to pointed methodological critique, Abbott demonstrates the inevitably theoretical character of any methodology.

Time Matters focuses particularly on questions of time, events, and causality. Abbott grounds each essay in straightforward examinations of actual social scientific analyses. Throughout, he demonstrates the crucial assumptions we make about causes and events, about actors and interaction and about time and meaning every time we employ methods of social analysis, whether in academic disciplines, market research, public opinion polling, or even evaluation research. Turning current assumptions on their heads, Abbott not only outlines the theoretical orthodoxies of empirical social science, he sketches new alternatives, laying down foundations for a new body of social theory.

296 pages | 5 line drawings, 7 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Sociology: General Sociology, Methodology, Statistics, and Mathematical Sociology, Theory and Sociology of Knowledge

Table of Contents

Prologue An Autobiographical Introduction
Part One Methods and Assumptions
1 Transcending General Linear Reality
2 Seven Types of Ambiguity
3 The Causal Devolution
Part Two Time and Method
4 What Do Cases Do?
5 Conceptions of Time and Events in Social Science Methods
6 From Causes to Events
Part Three Time and Social Structure
7 Temporality and Process in Social Life
8 On the Concept of Turning Point
9 Things of Boundaries
Epilogue Time Matters

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