In his highly influential book (The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy, first published in 1958), Peter Winch introduces an alternative concept of interpretive social science, in which the focus is shifted from the actors' subjective motives to the common elements found in every understandable action: language games and rule following. This Wittgensteinian, linguistic version of interpretive social science has had its vast array of critics throughout the years: according to some of them, it neglects the practical side of sociology; while others claim that it fails to properly answer the questions raised by the translation from one language game to another, or that it renders critical social theory impossible. In this article, the author tries to critically reflect upon these critiques themselves, showing that the Winchian theory does not overlook the practice in understanding the different forms of life; that with slight modifications it is able to cope with the problem of translating, and that it doesn't aspire to be the critical theory that many of its critics would like it to be.
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