Contemporary articles citing Homans G (1967) Nature Social Sci
science, example, first, should, sociologists, consistent, second, notwithstanding, current, highly
- Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "The Meaning of `theory'." Sociological Theory. 26:2 173-199.
- `Theory' is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words `theory,' `theoretical,' and `theorize.' I argue that confusions about the meaning of `theory' have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: (a) what does `theory' mean in the sociological language?; and (b) what ought `theory' to mean in the sociological language? I proceed in five stages. First, I explain why one should ask a semantic question about `theory.' Second, I lexicographically identify seven different senses of the word, which I distinguish by means of subscripts. Third, I show some difficulties that the current lack of semantic clarity has led sociology to. Fourth, I articulate the question, `what ought ``theory'' to mean?,' which I dub the `semantic predicament' (SP), and I consider what one can learn about it from the theory literature. Fifth, I recommend a `semantic therapy' for sociology, and advance two arguments about SP: (a) the principle of practical reason-SP is to a large extent a political issue, which should be addressed with the help of political mechanisms; and (b) the principle of ontological and epistemological pluralism-the solution to SP should not be too ontologically and epistemologically demanding.
- Abend, G. 2006. "Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and Us Quests for Truth." Sociological Theory. 24:1 1-41.
- Both U.S. and Mexican sociologies allege that they are in the business of making true scientific knowledge claims about the social world. Conventional conceptions of science notwithstanding, I demonstrate that their claims to truth and scientificity are based on alternative epistemological grounds. Drawing a random sample of nonquantitative articles from four leading journals, I show that, first, they assign a different role to theories, and indeed they have dissimilar understandings of what a theory should consist of. Second, whereas U.S. sociology actively struggles against subjectivity, Mexican sociology maximizes the potentials of subjective viewpoints. Third, U.S. sociologists tend to regard highly and Mexican sociologists to eagerly disregard the principle of ethical neutrality. These consistent and systematic differences raise two theoretical issues. First, I argue that Mexican and U.S. sociologies are epistemologically, semantically, and perceptually incommensurable. I contend that this problem is crucial for sociology's interest in the social conditioning of scientific knowledge's content. Second, I suggest four lines of thought that can help us explain the epistemological differences I find. Finally, I argue that sociologists would greatly profit from studying epistemologies in the same fashion they have studied other kinds of scientific and nonscientific beliefs.
- Black, D. 2000. "Dreams of Pure Sociology." Sociological Theory. 18:3 343-367.
- Unlike older sciences such as physics and biology, sociology has never had a revolution. Modern sociology is still classical-largely psychological, teleological, and individualistic-and evert less scientific than classical sociology. But pure sociology is different: It predicts and explains the behavior of social life with its location and direction in social space-its geometry. Here I illustrate pure sociology with formulations about the behavior of ideas, ideas, including a theory of scienticity that predicts and explains the degree to which an idea is likely to be scientific (testable, general, simple, valid, and original). For example: Scienticity is a curvilinear function of social distance from the subject. This formulation explains numerous facts about the history and practice of science, such as why some sciences evolved earlier and faster than others and why so much sociology is so unscientific. Because scientific theory is the most scientific science, the theory of scienticity also implies a theory of theory and a methodology far the development of theory.
- Lemert, C. 1999. "The Might Have Been and Could Be of Religion in Social Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 240-263.
- Religion may well be the most inscrutable surd of social theory, which began late in the 19(th) century dismissing the subject. Not even the renewal of interest in religion in the 1960s did much to make religion a respectable topic in social theory. It is possible that social theory's troubles are, in part, due to its refusal to think about religion. Close examination of social theories of Greek religion suggest, for principal example, that religion is perfectly able to thrive alongside the profane provided both are founded on principles of finitude, which in turn may be said to be the foundational axiom of any socially organized religion. The value of a social theory of religion, thus defined, may be seen as a way out of the current controversies over the politics of redistribution and politics of recognition. Any coherent principles of social justice, whether economic or cultural, may only be possible if one begins with the idea that all human arrangements are, first and foremost, limited - that is to say: finite; hence, strictly speaking, religious. Durkheim got this only partly right.
- Kanazawa, S. 1998. "In Defense of Unrealistic Assumptions." Sociological Theory. 16:2 193-204.
- I argue that a theory's assumptions always are and ought to be unrealistic. Further we should attempt to make them more unrealistic in order to increase a theory's fruitfulness. Many sociologists believe that a theory's assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. I contend that this criticism probably stems from the confusion of a theory's assumptions with its scope conditions. While Friedman's (1953) similar prescription is associated with the instrumentalist philosophy of science, I maintain that it is also consistent with the realist view if ``unrealistic'' is taken to mean ``incomplete'' rather than ``untrue.'' I discuss a recent theory of the value of children by Friedman, Hechter and Kanazawa (1994) to point out how assumptions differ from scope renditions and how empirically plausible and realistic hypotheses can be logically deduced from highly unrealistic assumptions. I then discuss Kollock's (1993a, 1993b) revision of Axelrod's (1984) Cooperation Theory as an example of when assumptions need to be revised.