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1 How arguments are used in the Social Sciences

The audio programme used in this course addresses the issue of how arguments are constructed and used in the social sciences. It uses extracts from a radio programme (originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 1997) in which the social consequences of welfare provision are discussed from different viewpoints. The programme is organised to allow you to trace how arguments are being put together, assess what sort of assumptions are being made, and examine how forms of evidence are being use
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand how arguments may be presented in the Social Sciences.


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5.5 ‘A sense of belonging and membership in which sentiment and emotion play an important rol

Nationalism is about land or territory and what it means to people. Nationalists make claims to the centrality of certain tracts of land to them, to their people, to their collective history, traditions, cultures and sufferings:

When a hundred thousand nationalists march down Sherbrooke Street [in Montreal] chanting ‘Le Quebec aux Quebecois’, they are not just talking about the establishment of a public languag
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References

Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London, Verso.
Archard, D. (1995) ‘Myths, lies and historical truth: a defence of nationalism’, Political Studies, vol.43, no. 3.
Baogang He (2002) ‘Referenda as a solution to the national-identity/boundary question: an empirical critique of the theoretical litera
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5.1 How did we get here?

We began this course by posing the question: what is a crime? Shouldn't we be finishing with a clear and unambiguous answer to this? Well we are sorry to disappoint you, if that is what you were expecting, but it doesn't look to us as if there is a simple, unambiguous answer. At the very least, according to Sections 1 and 2 of this chapter, there are: legal and normative definitions of crime; recorded and unrecorded crimes; the crimes we fear and the crimes that fascinate us; and stories of c
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4.1 Exploring the claims about crime

The claims of the common-sense story of crime that we unearthed in Section 3 were, broadly speaking, about the start of the story (how things were then) and the end of the story (how things are now). But most stories have a middle. A middle that gets you from the beginning to the end, that explains how one state of affairs is transformed into another. The former claims are primarily descriptive. The claim in the middle would be explanatory. It would need to address questions lik
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3.6 Summary

  • The common-sense narratives of the crime problem in the UK can be broken down into a series of distinct claims that make assessing them easier.

  • Those claims can be tested against quantitative and qualitative evidence. Both types of evidence suggest that the narrative of change from a secure to an insecure society is at best partial, overestimating the tranquillity of the past, and the uncertainty and riskiness of the present.


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3.2 Counting the crime problem

What kind of evidence would support the claims of the common-sense narrative? Where would it come from and where would you find it? Most social scientists would start with the people who actually spend their time counting these things – governments. Government agencies of all kinds spend a great deal of time and money producing official statistics, recording crime rates, conviction rates, the size of prison populations, and so on.

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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) This content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this
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References

Cohen, S. (2001) States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, Cambridge, Polity Press.
Ritchin, F. (1989) ‘What is Magnum?’ in Manchester, W (ed.) In Our Time, London, Andre Deutsch.

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2.1 Activity 1: Oil Lives

Oil Lives consists of a series of photographs of an individual and some written text based on interviews with them. Two of these series are reproduced in this section, with Logan's ‘War Scrapbook’ in between them. Take some time to look at the photographs and to read the words accompanying them. Try to work out first what parts of the photographs have been brought together from different originals. What do Owen Logan's decisions about how to picture the industry and some of its workers su
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3.3 The downside of the new economy

During the US boom of the 1990s, some economists attributed the paradox of economic growth, rising productivity, but stable or only modestly rising wage costs, to the growing sense of insecurity in the labour force (Greenspan, 1998). Employment insecurity is also emphasised by sociologists such as Ulrich Beck (2000) and Richard Sennett (1998). This section outlines some of their arguments because they are central to those who take a critical view of the new economy. Their arguments also conta
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Introduction

This course considers four ways in which some social scientists have claimed that there might be a ‘new economy’ coming in to being: the switch from manufacturing to services, globalisation, new technology and flexible labour markets. The good and bad points of economic change, its benefits and costs, are discussed. For example, what does it mean for people trying desparately to balnace the urgent demands of work and life?

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 1 study in
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Acknowledgements

This course is subject to Creative Commons licence (attribution, non commercial, non derivative). For copyright reasons any third party materials must not be used in isolation from the course or for any other purpose. Acknowledgements must always accompany use of course. Any adverts contained in this course are for the purposes of academic analysis only and d
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Introduction

This course introduces ideas which are likely to be of interest to a range of professionals interested in English language education, and is accessible to those who have not yet undertaken masters level study but might be interested in doing so in the future. It includes a variety of activities which help learners to relate theoretical discussion to professional practice.

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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you to
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5 Celebrities and newsworthiness

Celebrity has become one of the principal ways in which information is disseminated, including information about such apparently different fields as entertainment and politics. Even health advice is provided through stories about celebrities’ encounters with illness and their recoveries. For example, on the back of the announcement of Kylie Minogue's breast cancer treatment, the press were full of breast cancer reports and personal stories all of which began with a reference to Kylie. This
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Introduction

What value does art have in the school curriculum? This unit, primarily aimed at colleagues teaching art in schools, explores the justification for including art in the school curriculum together with some of the current criticisms commonly heard.

Find out more about studying with The Open University by visiting our online prospect
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Learning to learn: Exploring learning
In this free course, Learning to learn: Exploring learning, we encourage you to consider two additional perspectives that can illuminate your learning. The first is the perspective that other people you know can provide; the second is the perspective that can be provided by academic theories about learning. We think that these two perspectives can help you prepare for personal change. PLEASE NOTE: this course is currently being reviewed. An updated and improved version of the course can be found
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3.4 As core or secondary texts

The final categorisation of texts is especially useful when looking at celebrity texts. It allows us to distinguish between:

  • the ‘core’ texts representing the work (the films, television shows, sound recordings, books, sporting performances) which provide the basis on which the individual's celebrity is founded; and

  • the secondary texts of several genres (including gossip ones) which promote the core works and/or the celebrity her- or
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