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SPSS as an inscription device: From causality to description

Uprichard, E.; Burrows, R.; Byrne, D.


E. Uprichard

R. Burrows

D. Byrne


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.


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

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 2008
Deposit Date May 3, 2011
Journal Sociological Review
Print ISSN 0038-0261
Electronic ISSN 1467-954X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 56
Issue 4
Pages 606-622