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The Career of Causal Analysis in American Sociology

Christopher Bernert
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 34, No. 2 (Jun., 1983), pp. 230-254
DOI: 10.2307/590737
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/590737
Page Count: 25
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The Career of Causal Analysis in American Sociology
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Abstract

The visibility of causal terminology in American sociology, from 1895 to the 1960s, has varied according to changing philosophies of science and patterns of scientific communication. Successive generations differed in their receptivity to the diffusion of causal concepts from traditions other than sociology. After briefly reviewing the status of causality in the pre-sociological period, causal terminology is observed across four successive cohorts of sociologists. The first generation, 1890 to 1910, spoke freely of 'causes' until the second generation, in command of method using English statistics until the 1930s, made talk of causes anathema. Following theorists called for a return to causal interpretations which commenced in the 1950s as new methods attuned to the prevailing philosophy of science were imported to sociology from other disciplines.

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