Todd Landman Academic Magician

Real Social Science: Applied Phronesis

edited by Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram, Cambridge University Press.

Now Published! Click HERE to order!

Real Social Science presents a new, hands-on approach to social inquiry. The theoretical and methodological ideas behind the book, inspired by Aristotelian phronesis, represent an original perspective within the social sciences, and this volume gives readers for the first time a set of studies exemplifying what applied phronesis looks like in practice.

The reflexive analysis of values and power gives new meaning to the impact of research on policy and practice. Real Social Science is a major step forward in a novel and thriving field of research. This book will benefit scholars, researchers and students who want to make a difference in practice, not just in the academy. Its message will make it essential reading for students and academics across the social sciences.


Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman, Sanford Schram, Arthur W. Frank, Stewart R. Clegg, Tyrone S. Pitsis, Corey Shdaimah, Roland Stahl, Leonie Sandercock, Giovanni Attili, Steve Griggs, David Howarth, Tricia D. Olsen, Leigh A. Payne, Andrew G. Reiter, Virginia Eubanks, Paul William Simmons, Ranu Basu


Develops the idea of a phronetic social science beyond the original formulation
Will appeal to methodologists working in research traditions that combine different analytical techniques
All contributions, introductory and concluding chapters have had the benefit of three editors with long and active research backgrounds and have been written with one 'authorial voice'

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: new directions in social science by  Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram
2. Phronetic social science: an idea whose time has come by Sanford Schram
3. Phronesis and narrative analysis by Todd Landman
4. The feel for power games: everyday phronesis and social theory by Arthur W. Frank
5. Phronesis, projects and power research by Stewart R. Clegg and Tyrone S. Pitsis
6. Why mass media matter, and how to work with them: phronesis and megaprojects by Bent Flyvbjerg
7. Power and conflict in collaborative research by Corey Shdaimah and Roland Stahl
8. Unsettling a settler society: film, phronesis and collaborative planning in small-town Canada by Leonie Sandercock and Giovanni Attili
9. Phronesis and critical policy analysis: Heathrow's 'third runway' and the politics of sustainable aviation in the UK by Steve Griggs and David Howarth
10. Amnesty in the age of accountability: Brazil in comparative context by Tricia D. Olsen, Leigh A. Payne and Andrew G. Reiter
11. Feminist phronesis and technologies of citizenship by Virginia Eubanks
12. Making the teaching of social justice matter by Paul William Simmons
13. Spatial phronesis: a case study in geosurveillance by Ranu Basu
14. Important next steps in phronetic social science by Bent Flyvbjerg, Todd Landman and Sanford Schram.

Praise for the Book

'[W]e see Landman's fluidity and commitment to a research agenda that crosscuts quantitative and qualitative studies. We see that the power of social and political science studies can be found in the multilayered stories, layered like strata ready for intellectual excavation.'

Lydia Pyne, Current Anthropology, December 2012

'Built on Flyvbjerg's commitment to social science that 'matters', Flyvbjerg, Landman and Schram's volume enriches the field with theoretical and methodological arguments and case studies extending and contending with each other in diverse locales and levels of social intervention. Anyone interested in socially-transformative social science will gain from it.'

Davydd J. Greenwood, Cornell University

'A splendid collection that demonstrates the possibilities of a social science praxis that is contextual, reflexive, normatively engaged and yet also well-theorized and powerfully illuminating. A bracing step toward social understanding that is not straight-jacketed by the nomothetic cannons of laboratory science.'

James C. Scott, Yale University

'This book and this mission are of utmost importance and urgency. Phronesis, only phronesis, can save social science. We have no other hope.'

Nassim N. Taleb, Polytechnic Institute of New York University and author of The Black Swan

'What an important book! Bent Flyvbjerg and his collaborators have taken a decisive step forward in developing social scientific enquiries informed by an Aristotelian concept of phronesis. Their case studies disclose how much has remained invisible to other modes of enquiry.'

Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame


Professor Bent Flyvbjerg is Founding Chair of Major Programme Management at Oxford University's Saïd Business School and Director of the Oxford Centre for Major Programme Management. He works for better planning and management of megaprojects and cities, plus he writes about phronetic social science and case study research. Bent Flyvbjerg has served as adviser to the United Nations, the EU Commission and government and companies in many countries.

Professor Todd Landman is Director of the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex. He is a political scientist and has carried out numerous projects on the analysis and synthesis of data and complex governmental information as well being the author of several books and articles.

Sanford F. Schram has taught social theory and social policy at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College for the past 14 years. He is an affiliate to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As well as being author of ten books he sits on the editorial boards of a number of journals, including the Social Service Review.


Flora Cornish, London School of Economics 'Social Science as Practical Wisdom: Here Come the Examples'.

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