Stylized Facts in the Social Sciences

Daniel Hirschman

Sociological Science, July 19, 2016
DOI 10.15195/v3.a26

Abstract

Citation

Stylized facts are empirical regularities in search of theoretical, causal explanations. Stylized facts are both positive claims (about what is in the world) and normative claims (about what merits scholarly attention). Much of canonical social science research can be usefully characterized as the production or contestation of stylized facts. Beyond their value as grist for the theoretical mill of social scientists, stylized facts also travel directly into the political arena. Drawing on three recent examples, I show how stylized facts can interact with existing folk causal theories to reconstitute political debates and how tensions in the operationalization of folk concepts drive contention around stylized fact claims.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Daniel Hirschman: Department of Sociology, Brown University
Email: daniel_hirschman@brown.edu

Acknowledgements: I thank Beth Berman, Jamie Budnick, Wendy Espeland, Isaac Reed, and audiences at the 2013 Junior Theorists Symposium and the Michigan Social Theory Workshop for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

  • Citation:Hirschman, Daniel. 2016. “Stylized Facts in the Social Sciences.” Sociological Science 3: 604-626.
  • Received: April 22, 2016
  • Accepted: April 29, 2016
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Sarah Soule
  • DOI: 10.15195/v3.a26

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