Classification in Social Research

By Ramkrishna Mukherjee

Paperback : 9780873956086, 255 pages, June 1984
Hardcover : 9780873956079, 255 pages, June 1984

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Table of contents

1. Perspective
1. Overview
2. Classification
3. Societal and Social
4. Specialization and Integration
5. Social Research
6. Search and Research

2. Procedure
1. Overview
2. Aspects
3. Problem
4. Typological Approach
5. Population Approach

3. Application
1. Family: An Example
2. Kinship Patterns
3. Pattern Formation
4. Kinship Distance
Appendix 3A: Genealogical Chart for 13 Kinship Patterns
Appendix 3B: Master Chart for 13 Kinship Patterns
4. Utility
1. Family in India: An Example
2. Alternate Explanations
3. Systemization of Context Variables
4. Context and Text
5. Classification and Research
Appendix 4A: A Probability Model to Estimate the Incidence of Family Structure

References Cited
Name Index
Subject Index


This important work is addressed to all researchers concerned with classification. It shows the serious limits of the traditional form of analytical classification. The solution it proposes, the inductive population approach, considers all possible cross-classifications in regard to attributes of the phenomena. This approach is theoretically grounded, avoids the tendency to generate excessively abstract constructs, and provides a clear way of linking empirical data with theoretically meaningful attributes of social systems. The last section of the book applies the method to kinship structures.

Ramkrishna Mukherjee, who holds a Ph. D. from Cambridge University, was Distinguished Scientist of the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, until retirement in 1980. Formerly Additional Director of the Indian Statistical Institute, he was President of the Indian Sociological Society and Vice President of the International Sociological Association. His numerous publications include The Sociologist and Social Change in India Today and Social Indicators.


"Mukherjee does an excellent job of advocating the use of matrix, or population, classifications in the social sciences, with particular regard to family and kin. He very competently cuts across a wide range of social science disciplines. " — Walter P. Zenner, Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Albany

"Outstanding! Mukherjee treats classification as a multi-faceted process, with variable elements, unities, contents, and objects. The broad scope and intriguing examples of the first three chapters lead very logically and coherently into the final two chapters — in particular the mixture of ideas from the Marxist literature on political economy, the sociological and political science literature on national development, and the social-anthropological literature on changing family structures. I have the feeling that Mukherjee's carefully elaborated, inductive typologies introduce a much richer 'atomic table' or 'grammar of social possibilities' than other formal/classificatory studies I have read (by Levi-Strauss, Harrison White, etc. )." — Hayward R. Alker, Jr. , Professor of Political Science, MIT