This comprehensive volume provides an overview of the main debates on the sociology and philosophy of the social sciences from the contemporary perspective of radical reflexivity and democratization. From its origins in the 16th and 17th centuries when a new system of knowledge was created around the idea of modernity, the author traces the transformation of modern conceptions of social science as a cognitive system and as an institution. Focusing on the rise of positivism in the age of the Enlightenment to its final collapse in the 20th century, Gerard Delanty argues how social science is today recovering its role as the critical voice of modernity and examines the positivist dispute from post-empiricist perspectives. It is argued that the conception of social science emerging is one that involves a synthesis of radical constructivism and critical realism. Delanty sees the crucial challenge facing social science is a question of its public role: growing reflexivity in society has implications for the social production of knowledge and is bringing into question the separation of expert systems from other forms of knowledge.