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The Meaning of 'Theory'

Sociological Theory 26 (2):173-199 (2008)

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  1. The Limits of Decision and Choice.Gabriel Abend - 2018 - Theory and Society 47 (6):805-841.
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  • The Invention of Theory: A Transnational Case Study of the Changing Status of Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic Thesis.Stefan Bargheer - 2017 - Theory and Society 46 (6):497-541.
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  • Mapping ‘the ANT Multiple’: A Comparative, Critical and Reflexive Analysis.Laur Kanger - 2017 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 47 (4):435-462.
    Despite decades of development, Actor-Network Theory continues to be characterized by a good deal of ambiguities and internal tensions. This situation has led to a suggestion that instead of one ANT it may be meaningful to speak of ‘the ANT multiple’. Following this line of reasoning, this article aims to create a map of the variety of positions riding under the ANT banner. Based on an in-depth reading of ANT literature, seven different interpretations of ANT are identified and subjected to (...)
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  • What is Political About Political Ethnography? On the Context of Discovery and the Normalization of an Emergent Subfield.Gianpaolo Baiocchi & Claudio Benzecry - 2017 - Theory and Society 46 (3):229-247.
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  • « Cela Nous a Échappé… » : Théorie de L’Acteur-Réseau Et le Problème des Générations Scientifiques.Michel Dubois - 2017 - Social Science Information 56 (1):107-141.
    The present article reviews in detail the generational fate of Actor-Network Theory. This theory is one of the rare examples of an intellectual product that has managed to transpose into the very general terms of contemporary social theory findings initially elaborated in what is often seen as the confidential field of science and technology studies. Building in particular on MJ Nye’s work on the origins of the social construction of science in order to establish a generational approach to the study (...)
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  • A Model-Based Approach to Social Ontology.Matti Sarkia - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 52 (3):175-203.
    This paper argues for theoretical modeling and model-construction as central types of activities that philosophers of social ontology engage in. This claim is defended through a detailed case study and revisionary interpretation of Raimo Tuomela’s account of the we-perspective. My interpretation is grounded in Ronald Giere’s account of scientific models, and argued to be compatible with, but less demanding than Tuomela’s own description of his account as a philosophical theory of the social world. My approach is also suggested to be (...)
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  • How Can Theories Represent Social Phenomena?Jan A. Fuhse - 2022 - Sociological Theory 40 (2):99-123.
    Discussions in sociological theory often focus on ontological questions on the nature of social reality. Against the underlying epistemological realism, I argue for a constructivist notion of theory: Theories are webs of concepts that we use to guide empirical observations and to make sense of them. We cannot know the real features of the social world, only what our theoretical perspectives make us see. Theories therefore represent social phenomena by highlighting certain features and relating them in a logical system. In (...)
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  • Are Theories Politically Flexible?Federico Brandmayr - 2021 - Sociological Theory 39 (2):103-125.
    Social theories are politically flexible if people use them to support opposite political claims. But is this even possible? And what kind of theories have such a property? Moving beyond epistemological debates about neutrality and value-leadenness, this article defends an empirical approach to the study of flexible and rigid political uses of social theories. I identify two main sources of flexibility: endogenous properties of theories, notably their generality, ambiguity, and neutrality, and exogenous features of the contexts in which they are (...)
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  • Less Theory. More Description.Max Besbris & Shamus Khan - 2017 - Sociological Theory 35 (2):147-153.
    Sociology must worry less about theoretical innovation and more about empirical description.
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  • The Politics of Theory and the Constitution of Meaning.Peeter Selg - 2013 - Sociological Theory 31 (1):1-23.
    How should sociologists use the word theory? Gabriel Abend’s recent insistence that this question should be tackled politically raises two important issues: Is sociology political? And if so, what normative implications follow for its organization? Drawing on Wittgenstein’s notion of family resemblance and post-Gramscian theories of hegemony, I argue that Abend’s proposal that semantic questions about theory can be addressed separately from ontological, evaluative, and teleological ones is untenable. Disagreements about the latter are constitutive, not merely supplementary to the meaning (...)
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  • Toward a General Theory of Strategic Action Fields.Neil Fligstein & Doug McAdam - 2011 - Sociological Theory 29 (1):1 - 26.
    In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer a brief sketch of a general theory of strategic action fields (SAFs). We begin with a discussion of the main elements of the theory, describe (...)
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  • Theory Construction in Qualitative Research.Stefan Timmermans & Iddo Tavory - 2012 - Sociological Theory 30 (3):167-186.
    A critical pathway for conceptual innovation in the social is the construction of theoretical ideas based on empirical data. Grounded theory has become a leading approach promising the construction of novel theories. Yet grounded theory-based theoretical innovation has been scarce in part because of its commitment to let theories emerge inductively rather than imposing analytic frameworks a priori. We note, along with a long philosophical tradition, that induction does not logically lead to novel theoretical insights. Drawing from the theory of (...)
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  • Mapping ‘the ANT Multiple’: A Comparative, Critical and Reflexive Analysis.Laur Kanger - 2018 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 48 (1):2-30.
    Despite decades of development, Actor-Network Theory continues to be characterized by a good deal of ambiguities and internal tensions. This situation has led to a suggestion that instead of one ANT it may be meaningful to speak of ‘the ANT multiple’. Following this line of reasoning, this article aims to create a map of the variety of positions riding under the ANT banner. Based on an in-depth reading of ANT literature, seven different interpretations of ANT are identified and subjected to (...)
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  • Teorías de Alcance Intermedio, Práctica Científica y Metateoría Estructuralista.Cláudio Abreu - 2020 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 24 (1):165-201.
    The present work is immersed in the context of the contemporary philosophy of science, especially of the semanticist philosophy of the structuralist metatheory. Objectively, the work aims to reestablish the dialogue between the general philosophy of science and the special philosophy developed by scientists concerned with the fundamentals of their discipline, in this case, with sociologists. After presenting the Mertonian notion of middle range theory, the conception of theory that offers ME and, from that conception, a way of conceiving both (...)
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  • From Blended Learning to Learning Onlife : ICTs, Time and Access in Higher Education.Anders Norberg - unknown
    Information and Communication Technologies, ICTs, has now for decades being increasingly taken into use for higher education, enabling distance learning, e-learning and online learning, mainly in parallel to mainstream educational practise. The concept Blended learning aims at the integration of ICTs with these existing educational practices. The term is frequently used, but there is no agreed-upon definition. The general aim of this dissertation is to identify new possible perspectives on ICTs and access to higher education, for negotiating the dichotomy between (...)
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  • Humanising Sociological Knowledge.Marcus Morgan - 2016 - Social Epistemology 30 (5-6):555-571.
    This paper elaborates on the value of a humanistic approach to the production and judgement of sociological knowledge by defending this approach against some common criticisms. It argues that humanising sociological knowledge not only lends an appropriate epistemological humility to the discipline, but also encourages productive knowledge development by suggesting that a certain irreverence to what is considered known is far more important for generating useful new perspectives on social phenomena than defensive vindications of existing knowledge. It also suggests that (...)
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  • Lessons From Learning the Craft of Theory-Driven Research.Michael A. Dover - 2010 - Proceedings of the American Sociological Association 2010.
    This article presents a case study of the structure and logic of the author’s dissertation, with a focus on theoretical content. Designed for use in proposal writing seminars or research methods courses, the article stresses the value of identifying the originating, specifying and subsidiary research questions; clarifying the subject and object of the research; situating research within a particular research tradition, and using a competing theories approach. The article stresses the need to identify conceptual problems and empirical problems and their (...)
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