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Paul F. Lazarsfeld
An Empirical Theory of Social Action - Collected Writings

Edited by Christian Fleck and Nico Stehr
Foreword by Raymond Boudon
Translated by Hella Beister


28 March 2011, 560pp, 234 x 156mm
Hardback, £150.00, ISBN 978-1-905622-22-1

GEMAS Studies in Social Analysis
Series Editors: Mohamed Cherkaoui, Peter Hamilton & Bryan S. Turner

£150.00 UK (what's this?)

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Paul F. Lazarsfeld (1901–1976) was a highly influential figure in the development of modern empirical methods in sociology and the social sciences. He laid many of the foundations for reliable social survey techniques and qualitative methods for understanding key aspects of contemporary society, such as voting studies, opinion polling, occupational and mass media research. Lazarsfeld’s pioneering work in what he termed “administrative research” provided the intellectual basis for much of market and business research.

The articles collected together in Paul F. Lazarsfeld: An Empirical Theory of Social Action make Lazarsfeld’s pioneering early work on youth and occupation available for the first time in English. They demonstrate the intellectual influences of Austro-marxism, academic psychology and the philosophy of the Vienna Circle, and their application to concrete issues of social concern. His development of an empirically grounded theory of social action was to produce many important insights into the analysis of social processes. His methodological approach was a key influence on both Robert K. Merton’s “theories of the middle-range”, and Barney Glaser’s development, with Anselm Strauss, of “grounded theory”.

Lazarsfeld’s intellectual and methodological concerns played an important role in shaping the direction of sociology as a discipline in the United States. These were already evident in his early writings. They are remarkably modern in their approach and in their anticipation of some key concerns of current sociological methods.

The essays are accompanied by a detailed and illuminating biographical introduction by the editors, both eminent sociologists. It includes a foreword by the leading French sociologist Raymond Boudon who worked with and knew Lazarsfeld well. This collection is an invaluable contribution to the history of sociology in the 20th century, and represents the only source in English of his early writings.

Contents

Acknowledgements
Foreword: Lazarsfeld's Main Intellectual Intuitions, Raymond Boudon
Introduction- From Vienna to New York, Christian Fleck and Nico Stehr

Part I: Youth and Occupation

1. Behind the Scenes of School - Paul Lazarsfeld
Originally published as: “Hinter den Kulissen der Schule” in Sofie Lazarsfeld (ed.), Technik der Erziehung, Leipzig: Hirzel 1929, pp. 212–236.

2. Motives in Occupational Choice - Paul Lazarsfeld
Originally published as: “Die Berufswahlmotive”, in: Lazarsfeld, Paul F. (ed.), Jugend und Beruf. Kritik und Material, Jena: G. Fischer 1931, pp. 20–36..

3. Notes on Young Workers' Career Attitudes - Paul Lazarsfeld
Originally published as: “Die Berufseinstellung jugendlicher Arbeiter”, in Lazarsfeld, Paul F. (ed.), Jugend und Beruf. Kritik und Material, Jena: G. Fischer 1931, pp. 157–174.

4. Young People on Authority and Family - Paul Lazarsfeld & Käthe Leichter
Originally published as: “Die Jugendlichenerhebungen in der Schweiz”, in Max Horkheimer (ed.) Studien über Autorität und Familie. Forschungsberichte aus dem Institut für Sozialforschung, Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan 1936, pp. 352–415, here: pp. 378–415 (excerpts).

5. What Young People Want - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Coming of Age in Essex County. An Analysis of 10,000 Interviews with Persons 16–24 Years of Age. Mimeographed research report, Newark, NJ: University of Newark Research Center 1937, pp. 58–77.

Part II: Unemployment

6. An Unemployed Village - Paul Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Character and Personality, vol. 1, 1932–1933, pp. 147–151.

7. Emotional Attitudes and Specific Moods of the Unemployed - Paul F. Lazarsfeld & Bohan Zawadzki
Originally published in: Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 6, no. 2, 1935, pp. 234–245.

8. Marriage and the Sex Mores - Paul F. Lazarsfeld & Samuel Stouffer
Originally published in: Samuel A. Stouffer and Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Research Memorandum on the Family in the Depression (Studies in the Social Aspects of the Depression), New York: Social Science Research Council 1937, pp. 139–186.

9. Who Gets a Job? - Paul F. Lazarsfeld & Hazel Gaudet
Originally published in: Sociometry vol. 4, 1941, pp. 64–77.

Part III: Qualitative Methods

10. Principles of Sociography - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Original: "Prinzipielles zur Soziografie" (previously unpublished, 1934)

11. Psychological Aspects of Market Research - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Harvard Business Review 1934, pp. 54–71.

12. The Art of Asking Why: Three Principles Underlying the Formulation of Questionnaires - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: The National Marketing Review, vol. 1, no. 1, summer 1935; reprinted in: Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Qualitative Analysis: Historical and Critical Essays, Boston: Allyn and Bacon 1972, pp. 183–202.

13. Some Remarks on the Typological Procedures in socIal Research - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Reprinted from: “Some Remarks on Typological Procedures in Social Research,” in Continuities in the Language of Social Research, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Ann Pasanella and Morris Rosenberg (eds), New York: Free Press, 1972, pp. 99–106. Abridged by Ann Pasanella from Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, vol. 6, 1937, pp. 119–139.

14. Notes on the Logic of Generalization in Family Case Studies - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Samuel Stouffer and Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Research Memorandum on the Family in the Depression, New York: Social Science Research Council 1937, pp. 187–201.

15. The Quantification of Case Studies - Paul F. Lazarsfeld & W. S. Robinson
Originally published in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 1940, vol. 24, pp. 817–825

16. Remarks on Administrative and Critical Communication Research - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, 1940, vol. 9, pp. 2–16.

Part IV: Quantitative Methods

17. Market Research on a Psychological Basis - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Organisation Berlin, 1932, pp. 127–128.

18. The Techniques of Market Research from the Standpoint of a Psychologist - Arthur Kornhauser & Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Reprinted from: Language of Social Research: A Reader in the Methodology of Social Research, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Morris Rosenberg (eds), Glencoe: Free Press 1955, pp. 392–403. Originally published as: “The Techniques of Market Research from the Standpoint of a Psychologist”, Institute of Management Series, 1935, vol. 16, 3–24.

19. Interchangeability of Indices in the Measurement of Economic Influences - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 1935, vol. 23, pp. 33–45.

20. The Change of Opinion During a Political Discussion - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 1939, vol. 23, pp. 131–147.

Part V: Retrospect and Summary

21. Historical Notes on the Empirical Study of Action: An Intellectual Odyssey - Paul F. Lazarsfeld
Originally published in: Qualitative Analysis: Historical and Critical Essays, Boston: Allyn & Bacon 1972, pp. 53–106

List of Sources; Index

About the Authors

Christian Fleck teaches sociology at the University of Graz, Austria. He was president of the Austrian Sociological Association (2005–2009) and of ISA’s Research Committee on History of Sociology (2006–2010). His most recent publication is: A Transatlantic History of the Social Sciences: Robber Barons, the Third Reich and the Invention of Empirical Social Research (Bloomsbury Academic, 2011).

Nico Stehr is Karl Mannheim Professor of Cultural Studies at the Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany. His research interests centre on the transformation of modern societies into knowledge societies as well as the societal consequences of climate change. His most recent publication is: Experts: The Knowledge and Power of Expertise (with Reiner Grundmann, Routledge, 2011).

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