chapter  10
3 Pages

Conclusion

As a student it is unlikely, and not necessarily desirable, that you have read the whole of this book from cover to cover – although if you have, well done! We wish that we could offer you a great ending, like a novel: to be able to set out in this conclusion how to solve all social problems. That would be something. Unfortunately, we cannot. However, we hope that whatever you have read in this textbook it has given you some clearer idea about how to think through social problems as a social scientist. Knowing how to think, not what to think, is at the heart of becoming a critical, reflective undergraduate. You may agree or disagree with some of the arguments given here. You may be confused or unsure about certain topics. None of these positions is at all bad. Doubt and an engaged scepticism are where thinking begins. Hannah Arendt (referred to in 2.2) once summed up her whole life’s work – which covered issues about totalitarianism, revolution, the human condition, friendship and love – as simply being about ‘thinking what we are doing’ (Arendt 1958). What she meant by this wasn’t simply thinking in the way that we do in our practical lives: ‘what shall I eat for dinner?’, ‘where shall I go tonight?’, ‘what do I say to my boyfriend?’ and so on. What Arendt was implying was that we ought to develop a capacity to reflect upon an issue in an intelligent, informed and ethical way. To do this as an individual, to take up the challenge of being thoughtful and having the willingness to learn, is the greatest contribution we can make to people around us and our communities. If this book has ever so slightly nudged you to be more like this, then it would have done its job.