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Reviewed by:
  • Reader’s Guide to the Social Sciences
  • Glynn Harmon
Reader’s Guide to the Social Sciences. Edited by Jonathan Michie. London and Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001. xl, 2,095 pp. 2 volumes. $285.00. ISBN 1-57958-091-2.

The purpose of this Reader's Guide is to point out the major works on specific social science topics: economics, human geography, law, management and business, organizational behavior, philosophy, politics and international relations, psychology, research methodology, and sociology. The two volumes contain about twelve hundred short (one- or two-page) articles on key topics within each of the major social science fields listed above. Articles provide only brief critical overviews of the topical areas rather than in-depth coverage, but they do point the reader to published works that provide in-depth coverage, including literature reviews and encyclopedic entries. The Guide thus serves as a gateway, filter, and springboard for the reader; it was not intended to serve as an encyclopedia. Authors of each entry were asked to select works and devise their entries to be useful to those beginning a literature review and to instructors and others to construct reading lists. Each entry provides critical analysis and expert guidance to assist the reader in selecting the best works for further study and research. In addition to the standard short entries, the volumes include major surveys on the history and evolution of the social sciences collectively and on each social science field covered. [End Page 107] These surveys map out and provide context for the specific entries, summarize issues and controversies, and explain different schools of thought.

Entries are arranged in alphabetical order, except in cases where a general entry explains a group of topics. Both volumes contain a complete "Alphabetical List of Entries" and a "Thematic List" of specific entries grouped under each major social science field. Volume 2 contains an extensive (160-page) "Booklist Index" of books and articles cited in the entries as well as a lengthy (104-page) index to topics, individuals, and works. Volume 2 also contains over forty-five pages of "Notes on Advisors and Contributors," which lists their respective names, current positions, and key works. In fact, about 15 percent of the total page count of the two volumes is dedicated to indexing and other reader navigational aids. The reference value of the Guide is thereby enhanced considerably.

Each entry is preceded by a short bibliography of the original and succeeding editions of key works. These key works are then explained and evaluated in the text of the entry. Entries provide an introduction and orientation to the topic, critical evaluations of the listed works, and pointers to additional significant works. Many entries offer a concluding, state-of-the-art assessment of research and propose future research priorities. Some entries conclude with cross-references to related topics in the same or other social science areas, thus facilitating inter- and intradisciplinary connectivity.

Overall, the Guide fulfills its purposes admirably; it provides introductory overviews to the social sciences broadly and to each of the social science fields. Over a thousand key social science topics are critically presented and analyzed. Entries direct the reader to more in-depth works and state-of-the-art assessments. The Guide does not portray the social sciences as compartmentalized areas of knowledge but instead encourages readers to visualize sets of dynamic interactions between different social science areas in their quest to identify and confront various research problems. Its entries should be useful to various social scientists such as accountants, attorneys, managers, social workers, and others. Moreover, science and humanities scholars should find the volumes useful in visualizing the social implications and context of their works. Likewise, undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members as well as librarians should find the works to be useful in the conduct of research or in teaching and learning. The alphabetical arrangement of the Guide's entries serves to make it an excellent, easy-to-use, quick reference resource.

I found only a few faults with the Guide. First, while the entries cite the works of scholars from all over the world, British scholars and works tend to be rather heavily represented, while non...


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