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A Unified Three-Dimensional Framework of Theory Construction and Development in Sociology

Tim Futing Liao
Sociological Theory
Vol. 8, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 85-98
DOI: 10.2307/202196
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/202196
Page Count: 14
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A Unified Three-Dimensional Framework of Theory Construction and Development in Sociology
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Abstract

Popper's logic of scientific discovery and Kuhn's paradigm switches in science have been considered competing schools of thought in the philosophy of science and the sociology of knowledge. In the present paper the author establishes a unified three-dimensional framework that synthesizes the quintessential ideas of these schools. Theories are tested for confirmation or falsification in the first dimension; their scope conditions are defined and redefined in the second dimension; and they replace their predecessors to become a dominant theory or possibly even a new paradigm in the third dimension. The development of fertility theory is examined in the three-dimensional framework. This framework helps us understand important aspects of theory construction, and thereby shed light on how to build viable sociological theory. Also discussed are major problems in formulating sociological theory. The overcoming of these problems is a necessary condition for a theory to be examined in the three-dimensional framework, and thereby to become a candidate of a new theoretical paradigm.

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