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Publication - Professor Thomas Osborne

    Populating Sociology: Carr-Saunders and the problem of population


    Osborne, T & N., R, 2008, ‘Populating Sociology: Carr-Saunders and the problem of population’. Sociological Review, vol 56., pp. 552 - 578


    Research programmes in the social sciences and elsewhere can be seen as ‘set-ups’
    which combine inscription devices and thought styles. The history of inscription
    devices without consideration of changing and often discontinuous thought styles
    effectively takes the historical dimension out of the history of thought. Perhaps
    thought styles are actually more important than the techniques of inscription that
    arise from them.The social sciences have relied upon multiple modes of inscription,
    often using, adapting or extending those invented for other purposes, such as the
    census. But the strategic prioritisation and deployment of specific inscriptions in
    analysis and argument has inescapably been dependent on particular thought styles;
    of which by far the most significant over the course of the first half of the twentieth
    century was eugenics with its specific problem of ‘population’.This paper describes
    the way that Alexander Carr-Saunders took up the problem of population within
    early attempts to develop sociology.We ask whether Carr-Saunders can be considered
    a ‘precursor’ of a sociologist. The history of British sociology takes different
    shapes – as indeed does the very idea of a history of sociology – depending on how
    one answers this question.

    Full details in the University publications repository