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Theory and Research. Neuman and Robson Ch. 2. What is Theory?. “a statement of relationships between concepts” “a roadmap for organizing ideas and knowledge about the social world” Explicit vs. implicit Parsimony principle. Occam’s Razor.

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Theory and research

Theory and Research

Neuman and Robson Ch. 2

What is theory
What is Theory?

  • “a statement of relationships between concepts”

  • “a roadmap for organizing ideas and knowledge about the social world”

  • Explicit vs. implicit

  • Parsimony principle

Occam s razor
Occam’s Razor

  • Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar; William of Occam.  Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.

  • "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate"

  • "when you have two competing theories which make exactly the same predictions, the one that is simpler is the better.”

  • From

Quasi theory

  • A. Ideology

    • 1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.

    • 2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.

    • from

Quasi theory cont
Quasi-Theory (cont.)

  • B. Blame Analysis

    • “a type of counterfeit argument presented as if it were a theoretical explanation” (Neuman)

    • Attributes blame rather than providing a causal explanation

Theory parts
Theory Parts

  • Concepts

    • Concept clusters

    • Classification concepts (ideal types)

  • Relationships

  • Can be represented by a model


  • A. Empiricism vs. Relativism

  • B. Deductive vs. Inductive (see next slide)

  • C. Levels of Theory

    • Micro

    • Meso

    • Macro

Purpose of theory
Purpose of Theory

  • Explain

  • Predict

  • Establish causality

Theoretical frameworks
Theoretical Frameworks

  • General context and content of beliefs/assumptions

  • Major sociological theories

    • Structural Functionalism

    • Exchange and Rational Choice Theory

    • Symbolic Interactionism

      • Includes Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology and Labelling Theory

    • Conflict

      • Includes Marxism and Feminism

Comparison of theoretical frameworks see next slide
Comparison of Theoretical Frameworks (see next slide)

  • Theoretical frameworks differ on a number of aspects:

    • The level of analysis being used by the researcher to look at society

    • The view that is taken of human beings and their actions and behaviour

    • What factors prompt human action

    • What type of scientific approach is used by the researcher to study society

Theoretical frameworks on sports
Theoretical Frameworks on Sports

  • In describing sports, the following statements might be made

    • Structural Functionalism

      • Sports promote solidarity, binding communities and nations together

    • Exchange and Rational Choice Theory

      • Involvement in team sports can lead to prestige and recognition for men

    • Symbolic Interactionism

      • Sports contribute to teamwork and friendships as well as parent-child involvement

    • Conflict

      • Sports discriminate against women and minorities

Types of explanations
Types of Explanations:

  • Prediction and explanation

  • Causal explanations

  • Structural Explanations

  • Interpretive explanations

Major approaches or paradigms in social science
Major Approaches or Paradigms in Social Science

  • “integrated set of assumptions, beliefs, models of doing good research, and techniques for gathering and analyzing data”

  • 1. Positivism

  • 2. Interpretive Social Science

  • 3. Critical Social Science

  • 4. Feminist and Postmodern Research

  • A paradigm is the theoretical framework and the methodology used to investigate the theory

  • Multiple or competing paradigms in sociology