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📙 International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences by N. J. Smelser, P. B. Baltes — epub download


The publication of this work is of course an important event in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. There is no doubt that it is in many ways of a high value. The price, however, is also extreme. At this extreme cost, I think, one is permitted to be critical. Overall, I find that psychiatry, neurosciences and the like take much too much space at the expense of subjects more related to the social sciences. Just to name one example: The Organization OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) has no entry (although there are a few references in the index). The emphasis on behavioral sciences is argued in the introduction as an implication of the decision to cover the behavioral sciences in full. I do not quite agree in this decision. Is behavioral science not connected to behaviorism? And is behaviorism not a point of view that has lost much influence? This edition does not contain an article about "the behavioral sciences" (as did the 1968 edition). This is strange considering this very heavy concentration on that field. In this way this priority is not supported by arguments concerning the nature of the social sciences. By the way there is a very interesting article in this new (3rd) edition "Human sciences, History and sociology". This article explains how this concept is used as a new umbrella by a growing number of scientists who feel uncomfortable with the term "behavior" as the uniting concept. In a way this article confirms my skepticism about the concept of "behavioural sciences". Some serious omissions are: There is no article on "concepts" in general. There are no articles about scientific concepts or about social science concepts and terminology. (The exception is one about children's understanding of scientific concepts, again an example of over domination of "behavioral" views). The field of information science is almost totally absent, except as a heading in the subject index. Bradford's law of scattering and Zipfs law are not mentioned at all. There are no articles on core concepts such as "information" (although "information theory" is represented), "relevance", "(scientific) documentation" etc. There are a number of articles about core databases in different disciplines. None, however, about core databases in many other fields, including psychology and economics. This kind of asymmetry is common also in many other areas. There are many articles about new philosophical approaches to many fields, which I highly appreciate. But, for example, the fine article about "Sociology, epistemology of" does not have its counterpart in, for example, psychology. The basic structure of this encyclopedia is based, among other things, on the disciplines of the social sciences. But how many exists, and which should be excluded. There are some important discussions of this in the Introduction just as there are very useful articles on the history etc of scientific disciplines and social science disciplines in particular. The introduction, the index and these article are not, however consistent, and my feeling is that the view of what constitute the disciplines of the social sciences is somewhat narrow and conservative. These remarks should not bias my conclusion that this is a rich and useful source. There are extremely many articles. Each article is concise, informative and quickly read.

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