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Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Emeritus Professor David S. Byrne

Uprichard, E., Burrows, R. & Byrne, D. (2008). SPSS as an inscription device: From causality to description. Sociological Review 56(4): 606-622.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper examines the development of SPSS from 1968 to 2008, and the manner in which it has been used in teaching and research in British Sociology. We do this in order to reveal some of the changes that have taken place in statistical reasoning as an inscription device in the discipline over this period. We conclude that to characterise these changes as a shift from ‘causal’ to more ‘descriptive’ modes of analysis is too simplistic. Such a shift is certainly apparent, but it meshes in complex ways with a range of other – just as important – changes, that together mark a phase-shift in the functioning of sociological quantification.