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Social Science Essay

1396 words - 6 pages

Through generalisation, one gains the advantage of being able to see the whole picture and being able to carry out comparisons with ease whilst a focus on individual cases allows complexity and detailed analysis. The conduct of social science relates more to measurement and the academic use of knowledge. In contrast, the use of social science is based more on the policy making implications of social science research. By ignoring the whole picture and only focusing on individual cases, the conduct of social science research can be negatively affected. However, in the case of using research in the social sciences, it is more useful to consider individual cases rather than generalise. This is beneficial for policy making since it is important to identify and understand the causes of things before a detailed plan can be created.

A focus on individual cases can lead to poor conduct of social science research. The study of the Soviet Union provides a good example for this. In general, social scientists failed to predict the fall of the Soviet system, this was a consequence of a variety of factors. Arguably, the specialisation of social scientists has led to a failure to see the “big picture” . There is an emphasis on specialisation among academics as it is important for them to publish in specific journals and progress their careers by focusing on one discipline only. The downside to specialisation is that there is a lack of communication between the social scientists focusing on different areas of the Soviet system. This meant that all the individual knowledge related to the different aspects of the Soviet Union (such as foreign trade, demographics, agriculture and different statistics related to the economy) was not brought together, and the failure to see the “big picture” was a reason why social scientists were unable to predict the end of the Soviet Union.
The end of the Soviet Union was brought about by multiple causes related to agency, structure and ideas. An example for agency would be Mikhail Gorbachev who was elected as General Secretary of the Soviet Union in 1985, it is widely believed that his “domestic choices undermined the Soviet economy and state” but at the time, his reforms were not expected to lead to the fall of the Soviet Union. Another possible cause for the fall of the Soviet Union is economic decline, according to a primary source, “22 million people earn less than 60 rubles” . However, it is likely that other figures provided by the state were not fully honest about the extent of economic decline. It is possible that one social scientist focusing on one particular area of the Soviet system was unlikely to come to the conclusion that it would fail without taking account of other causes. Especially since many analysts based their predictions on distorted Soviet figures, the way they perceived the state of the Soviet Union was influenced by inaccurate data. Gorbachev himself believed that military expenditure was 16% of...

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