Causal Models in the Social Sciences

ISBN 13: 9780202303130

Causal Models in the Social Sciences

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9780202303130: Causal Models in the Social Sciences

Causal models are formal theories stating the relationships between precisely defined variables, and have become an indispensable tool of the social scientist. This collection of articles is a course book on the causal modeling approach to theory construction and data analysis. H. M. Blalock, Jr. summarizes the then-current developments in causal model utilization in sociology, political science, economics, and other disciplines. This book provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary picture of the work on causal models. It seeks to address the problem of measurement in the social sciences and to link theory and research through the development of causal models.

Organized into five sections (Simple Recursive Models, Path Analysis, Simultaneous Equations Techniques, The Causal Approach to Measurement Error, and Other Complications), this volume contains twenty-seven articles (eight of which were specially commissioned). Each section begins with an introduction explaining the concepts to be covered in the section and links them to the larger subject. It provides a general overview of the theory and application of causal modeling.

Blalock argues for the development of theoretical models that can be operationalized and provide verifiable predictions. Many of the discussions of this subject that occur in other literature are too technical for most social scientists and other scholars who lack a strong background in mathematics. This book attempts to integrate a few of the less technical papers written by econometricians such as Koopmans, Wold, Strotz, and Fisher with discussions of causal approaches in the social and biological sciences. This classic text by Blalock is a valuable source of material for those interested in the issue of measurement in the social sciences and the construction of mathematical models.

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About the Author:

H. M. Blalock, Jr. (1926-1991) was a professor in the department of sociology, University of Washington, Seattle. He was recipient of the 1973 ASA Samuel Stouffer Prize, a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the seventieth president of the American Sociological Association.

Review:

“Causal models are being more widely used in the social sciences, but most of them originate in econometrics, and explanations of how to use them tend to assume a higher degree of mathematical sophistication than sociologists and political sciences seek. Contributors identified only by name set out the main models for social scientists who have an introductory knowledge of causal models and have been exposed to simple least-squares procedures but have no training in mathematical statistics.”

Book News

“This book is important for the trend it represents as well as for its specific contents. . . . [T]he volume gives a rich picture of the history and current state (as of 1970) of causal modeling in the social sciences. The range of methodological and substantive problems covered is wide. . . . My reservations about the fifth part do not dilute my enthusiasm for this book.”

—Arthur S. Goldberger, Journal of the American Statistical Association

“[Q]uite good and a continuation of Blalock’s earlier (1964) work on causal models.”

—Charles W. Mcnett, Jr., American Anthropologist

“[A] good and useful methodological text.”

—A. P. M. Coxon, The British Journal of Sociology

“This book is a collection of articles dealing with some of the assumptions required and the issues involved in making inferences about causality from evidence consisting of correlations between data usually gathered at the same point in time. This is not a book for the novice: familiarity with the basic statistics of correlation and regression and with the conceptual issues involved in the notion of causality is assumed. . . . The quality of the material is, in all cases, high and stimulating.”

—W. P. Irvine, Canadian Journal of Political Science

“[U]seful and stimulating.”

—Neil W. Henry, Contemporary Sociology

“[M]ost impressive. . . . This . . . is a book about the methods of social science.”

—J. A. Barnes, The Economic Journal

“This volume, consisting of a collection of papers from various disciplines, is devoted to aspects of causal model building using regression-based systems of linear equations. . . . [T]he book is certain of a favourable reception from the researcher requiring a compact source of readings on the subject of path analysis and its developments. . . . Several of the reprinted papers are . . . classics in the field.”

—A. C. Bebbington, Population Studies

“This is a landmark book. It is a landmark not only because of its content but because of what the book indicates about the . . . status of sociological methodology. . . . [T]he book overall is a first-rate contribution to social science methodology.”

—George Bohrnstedt, Social Forces

“In the form of a reader, Causal Models is Blalock’s continued effort in the area of causal theories. . . . [Blalock] has contributed substantially to the understanding of causal inferences in nonexperimental research. . . . Blalock’s reader provides . . . insight to old problems, and the opportunity to discover new ones.”

—Yuk Lee, Journal of Regional Science

“Undoubtedly, the most important advance in sociological methodology during the past decade has been the introduction of that body of notions and techniques generally known as 'causal models'. . . . [T]his is a well selected set of reprinted papers on causal models, suitably supplemented with original contributions on particular topics. . . . It should find use as a book of readings for graduate students or even some of our better undergraduates. It will also be of value to the sociological researcher as a sourcebook on the many problems it discusses and as a guide to the more technical literature. Finally, the specialist will be happy to see so many of the 'classics' reprinted and bound together in one volume for easy use and reference.”

—Kenneth C. Land, Sociological Methods & Research

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Published by Aldine Transaction (1985)
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