Contemporary articles citing Willer D (1987) Theory Expt Investig
theories, being, experiments, types, issues, identical, further, addressed, examination, empirical
- Simpson, B & D Willer. 2005. "The Structural Embeddedness of Collective Goods: Connection and Coalitions in Exchange Networks." Sociological Theory. 23:4 386-407.
- The growing body of literature on coalitions in exchange networks has addressed issues such as the kind of social dilemmas posed and how structurally disadvantaged actors overcome free-rider problems. We add to this stream of research by focusing explicitly on what low-power actors can gain from collective action. We offer theory that predicts whether actors can gain a collective good by forming coalitions and, if so, the size of that good, for all types of network connection. The results from new experiments yield strong support for the predictions. Results show that (1) collective goods are latent in some, but not all, types of exchange structures; (2) when present, collective good size is determined by connection type; and (3) these goods are made manifest through collective action. Among other phenomena, the theory explains why networks that generate identical exchange ratios when participants act independently can produce different size collective goods when they act collectively. This article concludes with a discussion of implications, limitations, and directions for future research.
- 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.
- Lucas, JW. 2003. "Theory-testing, Generalization, and the Problem of External Validity." Sociological Theory. 21:3 236-253.
- External validity refers to the generalization of research findings, either from a sample to a larger population or to settings and populations other than those studied. While definitions vary, discussions generally agree that experiments are lower in external validity than other methodological approaches. Further, external validity is widely treated as an issue to be addressed through methodological procedures. When testing theories, all measures are indirect indicators of theoretical constructs, and no methodological procedures taken alone can produce external validity. External validity can be assessed through determining (1) the extent to which empirical measures accurately reflect theoretical constructs, (2) whether the research setting conforms to the scope of the theory under test, (3) our confidence that findings will repeat under identical conditions, (4) whether findings support the theory being tested, and (5) the confirmatory status of the theory under test. In these ways, external validity is foremost a theoretical issue and can only be addressed by an examination of the interplay between theory and methods.
- Corra, M & D Willer. 2002. "The Gatekeeper." Sociological Theory. 20:2 180-207.
- Webster, M & JM Whitmeyer. 2001. "Applications of Theories of Group Processes." Sociological Theory. 19:3 250-270.
- Theories of group processes have been and are being applied usefully to natural situations. We review a selection of these theories and examine different types of applications and interventions to which they have led. We then offer a typology of application, five ``stages'' with examples. As theoretical application proceeds, issues of complexity, rules of correspondence, and competing social interests increase the difficulty of that work, yet the benefits are considerable for theoretical development.