This chapter concludes the edited collection published as The power of pragmatism. It takes us back to the ‘quest for certainty’ in knowledge production with which we opened the volume. The chapter makes the case for adopting a pragmatic orientation to embrace uncertainty as both unavoidable and potentially productive. Recognising the seductive temptations of certainty that appear to provide order, progress, authority and respect, the chapter advocates the a priori acceptance of contingency as an antidote to dogmatism. This requires a sceptical orientation towards all statements of truth and a very different approach to knowledge production. The contributors to this volume advance and illustrate the power of pragmatism as a mode of knowledge production in the social sciences.
This book makes the case for a pragmatist approach to the practice of social inquiry and knowledge production. Through diverse examples from multiple disciplines, contributors explore the power of pragmatism to inform a practice of inquiry that is democratic, community-centred, problem-oriented and experimental. Drawing from both classical and neo-pragmatist perspectives, the book advances a pragmatist sensibility in which truth and knowledge are contingent rather than universal, made rather than found, provisional rather than dogmatic, subject to continuous experimentation rather than ultimate proof and verified in their application in action rather than in the accuracy of their representation of an antecedent reality. The power of pragmatism offers a path forward for mobilizing the practice of inquiry in social research, exploring the implications of pragmatism for the process of knowledge production.
This chapter provides a thorough introduction to an edited book that comprises fifteen chapters exploring the power of pragmatism in relation to social research and the production of knowledge. The chapter outlines the historical development of the pragmatist tradition and its core ideas before exploring its application to social research, past and present. We make a strong case for pragmatic social research, outline its key components and highlight its implications for research practice and outcomes. In the penultimate section, we address some of the long-standing concerns about pragmatism in order to provide critical context to the chapters in the rest of the book. The final section introduces the structure of the book and summarises the substantive chapters that follow.