The Role of Modelling in Social Science

Arvydas Guogis

Abstract


The paper presents an overview of M. Weber’s modelling paradigm assessing it against the opportunities of using the models in modern science of public policy and administration. Two types of research problems requiring modelling of different levels are identified. The paper defines the static and the dialectic methods of modelling, the limits and possibilities of their application are defined. The novelty and relevance of the paper lies in the substantiation of advantages and drawbacks of static modelling and in the proving of the importance of normative character of science, which contradicts the traditional Weber’s methodology. In public administration one may not rely only upon formal procedures, forms and rules, because this will not reveal the functions of the State and the interests underlying them. A public administration model must be characterised by normative content.
Models of social processes must not necessarily reflect the reality exactly, however, they may serve as a tool for simplifying the mechanisms of social reality and for attempting to understand its mechanisms. Modelling may be static or dialectic.
Static modelling is simpler since the number of variables it takes account of is smaller. In certain cases static modelling may be presented or desirable due to value considerations raised by the idealistic world. Idealistic philosophy gives rise to relevant phenomena, which can be neither confirmed nor rejected. Such models may be desirable as the given required by a peculiar belief and as components of the given. As far as social science is a value and “humanitarian“ science, to such extent metaphysics, the static given and static modelling may yield results. Philosophical idealism is often presented as a source of political and economic liberalism, or a sign of equality is placed between them. This is not entirely correct since state and social policy studies in the liberal social sciences are based on formal concepts without any normative content. Liberal sociological definitions designed for a parliamentary–democratic constitutional state usually cover only procedures, forms, rules and state activity instruments, avoiding a definition of the State’s functions completely or partially. Not only the functions of the State remain unsubstantiated; possible consequences of manifestation of these functions or the interests of those who defend them or any backstairs interests behind the declared interests are not explained. The Weberian methodological concept of democracy turns liberal democracy and pluralist theory into a sheer arsenal of technical means, which is unpredictable and incapable of explaining the deep phenomena of public administration and the more so – of social policy. It is not only in the West, but also in Eastern Europe including Lithuania, individual politicians and public administration experts wish to reduce the principle of social welfare to the constitutional and legal level, absolutising the legal aspect.
Dialectic modelling is a kind of opposite to static modelling, or modelling that may supplement the latter substantially. And this is not just because it is able to “see the context“. Using the dialectic relationship one may examine such historical dichotomies as belief and science, nationality and globalism, central and local government, private and public interest etc. In the most general sense, dialectic modelling is focussed on the determination of the content, form, contradiction between content and form, and finding of the place of this relationship in the world’s development process. The methodology of dialectic modelling asserts that the dialectic relationship is a universal means of modelling of qualitative processes and may be used for the modelling of the processes for which sufficient qualitative exceptionality may be determined as compared with the previous qualitative stage.
Eastern Europe encounters difficulties in social modelling due to a distinct transformational nature of social systems of these countries as well as due to frequent changes in the laws governing social security and tax policy. The latter factor also poses problems for Eastern European social scientists in processing the material and in modelling socio–economic development on its basis.

Keywords


model; norm; static modelling; dialectic modelling

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603