Contemporary articles citing Kuhn T (1970) Structure Sci Revolu
theories, epistemological, empirical, same, concept, understanding, highly, science, first, any
- 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.
- Berger, J, D Willer & M Zelditch. 2005. "Theory Programs and Theoretical Problems." Sociological Theory. 23:2 127-155.
- Some sociologists argue that sociological theory does not grow and the reason why it does not grow is that the discipline lacks a core of highly developed, almost universally accepted, paradigms; even worse, because it is reflexive, its criteria of problem and theory choice are so noncognitive that there are no paradigms, hence no progress, in its future. We do not question that sociology lacks a core of almost universally accepted paradigms, nor that highly developed paradigms may be a sufficient condition of theory growth, but we question both that universal acceptance of them is necessary and that sociology has nothing like them. We argue that theoretical research programs-sets of strategies, sets of interrelated theories embodying these strategies, and empirical models interpreting these theories-are sufficient for theoretical growth. An examination of three theoretical research programs in this article shows that they perform some of the same functions for theory growth as, in Kuhn, are performed by paradigms. Sociology may lack a universally accepted core, but there are theoretical research programs in sociology, and therefore already there is theory growth if it is looked for in the right place. Nor is there any warrant for the view that because its criteria of problem and theory choice are inescapably noncognitive, there are no paradigms, hence no progress, in sociology's future. If that were true, not only would sociology lack paradigms, but also theoretical research programs. We conclude from our study that sociology need not wait on the emergence of a universally accepted core. It is sufficient for the growth of theory that it develops further its existing theoretical research programs and that it encourages the creation of new programs.
- Steinmetz, G. 2004. "Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and ``small N's'' in Sociology." Sociological Theory. 22:3 371-400.
- Case studies and ``small-N comparisons'' have been attacked from two directions, positivist and incommensurabilist. At the same time, some authors have defended small-N comparisons as allowing qualitative researchers to attain a degree of scientificity, yet they also have rejected the case study as merely ``idiographic.'' Practitioners of the case study sometimes agree with these critics, disavowing all claims to scientificity. A related set of disagreements concerns the role and nature of social theory in sociology, which sometimes is described as useless and parasitic and other times as evolving in splendid isolation from empirical research. These three forms of sociological activity-comparative analysis, studies of individual cases, and social theory-are defended here from the standpoint of critical realism. In this article I first reconstruct, in very broad strokes, the dominant epistemological and ontological framework of postwar U.S. sociology. The next two sections discuss several positivist and incommensurabilist criticisms of comparison and case studies. The last two sections propose an understanding of comparison as operating along two dimensions, events and structures, and offer an illustration of the difference and relationship between the two.
- Jasso, G. 2004. "The Tripartite Structure of Social Science Analysis." Sociological Theory. 22:3 401-431.
- The goal of sociology, and all social science, is to produce reliable knowledge about human behavioral and social phenomena. To reach that goal, we undertake three kinds of activities: theoretical work, empirical work, and, even more basic, we develop frameworks that assemble the fundamental questions together with the fundamental tools that will be used to address them. This article examines the three sets of activities and their interrelations. Both deductive and nondeductive theory are highlighted, as are three kinds of empirical work-testing the predictions of deductive theories, testing the propositions produced by nondeductive theories, and extratheoretical measurement and estimation. Illustrations are drawn from the fields of status, justice, and migration.
- Vandenberghe, F. 1999. "``the Real Is Relational'': an Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's Generative Structuralism." Sociological Theory. 17:1 32-67.
- An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of ``habitus,'' as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of ``habitus `` and ``field.'' To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field.
- Arditi, J. 1996. "Simmel's Theory of Alienation and the Decline of the Nonrational." Sociological Theory. 14:2 93-108.
- By any standard, nonrationality is an undertheorized concept in sociology. This paper attempts to open a discussion on nonrationality by analyzing one of the most fruitful theorizations of the concept: Simmels. Simmel developed a theory that placed nonrationality on the same plane with rationality and attributed to the former a role as fundamental as the latter's in the foundations of action, and as central as the latter's in the generation of existential meanings. The gradual eclipse of the nonrational elements of life in the expanses of a modern, highly rationalized world imply, then, an impoverishment of being. I argue that Simmel's theory of the nonrational can serve as a model capable of enriching our understanding of society and of the person and can, in this sense, serve as a counterpoint to current sociological theories that emphasize the rational elements of life and conceive the person in primarily rational terms.
- SOMERS, MR. 1995. "Whats Political or Cultural About Political-culture and the Public Sphere - Toward an Historical Sociology of Concept-formation." Sociological Theory. 13:2 113-144.
- The English translation of Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere converges with a recent trend toward the revival of the `'political culture concept'' in the social sciences. Surprisingly, Habermas's account of the Western bourgeois public sphere has much in common with the original political culture concept associated with Parsonian modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, the concept of political culture is used in a way that is neither political nor cultural. Explaining this peculiarity is the central problem addressed in this article and one to follow I hypothesize that this is the case because the concept itself is embedded in an historically constituted political culture (here called a conceptual network)-a structured web of conceptual relationships that combine into Anglo-American citizenship theory. The method of an historical sociology of concept formation is introduced to analyze historically and empirically the internal constraints and dynamics of this conceptual network. The method draws from new work in cultural history and sociology, social studies, and network, narrative, and institutional analysis. This research yields three empirical findings: this conceptual network has a narrative structure, here called the Anglo-American citizenship story; this narrative is grafted onto an epistemology of social naturalism; and these elements combine in a metanarrative that continues to constrain empirical research in political sociology.
- COULTER, J. 1995. "Conceptual Transformations." Sociological Theory. 13:2 163-177.
- Are the words in our natural language which we use to speak about natural and social phenomena actually laden with preexisting (and hence corrigible) theoretical commitments, full-blown `'ontologies,'' or even metaphysics Or can we appeal to rules for their use in adjudicating the sense (or otherwise) of any scientific or philosophical innovation? These questions arise most commonly in the context of claims about scientific `'transformations,'' especially `'scientific revolutions.'' Cognitive science, for example, announces such a `'revolution'' in its conceptualizations of the true nature of the `'mind,'' `'thought,'' `'intelligence,'' `'understanding,'' and so on. In this paper I shall argue that Wittgenstein's reflections on `'grammar'' enable us to dissolve many of the perplexities that confront us when we invoke Kuhnian `'incommensurability'' in distinguishing between genuine scientific revolutions and pseudo-revolutions. Indeed, the Kuhnian thesis itself is seen to depend on a range of contestable claims about `'words'' and `'meanings.''
- BOSSERMAN, P. 1995. "The 20th-century Saint-simon - Gurvitch,georges Dialectical Sociology and the New Physics." Sociological Theory. 13:1 48-57.