The Meaning and the Implications of Heterogeneity for Social Science Research

12 Pages Posted: 28 May 2013  

Peter Lewin

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Management - Department of Finance & Managerial Economics

Date Written: May 28, 2013

Abstract

The concept of ‘heterogeneity’ is much invoked in social science research especially in disciplines like psychology, sociology and anthropology and is now an integral part of economics in sub-disciplines like industrial organization, entrepreneurship, behavioral economics, and similar fields. This paper examines the fundamentals of the concept of heterogeneity – which I relate to the distinction between quantity and quality. This distinction is related also to the distinctions between simple and complex phenomena and to that between social and natural phenomena in a manner I explain. I offer a conceptual framework for the demarcation of situations in which quantitative methods may be expected to work well, and, by implication, when not. I imagine the insights yielded by this framework are not new to my readers, but suggest that there is some added value and novelty to this particular formulation which helps to draw out the implications of these insights.

Keywords: heterogeneity, social-science research, quantity, quality, complexity

JEL Classification: B41, B53, L26

Suggested Citation

Lewin, Peter, The Meaning and the Implications of Heterogeneity for Social Science Research (May 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2271147 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2271147

Peter Lewin (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Management - Department of Finance & Managerial Economics ( email )

2601 North Floyd Road
P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083
United States

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