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A Quantitative Procedure for Classifying the Content of Theory/Research Works

Elizabeth A. Freidheim
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring, 1978), pp. 234-252
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4105634
Page Count: 19
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A Quantitative Procedure for Classifying the Content of Theory/Research Works
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Abstract

Classifying styles of scientific thought is a necessary prelude to many further projects in the analysis of theory and in the sociology of sociology. Numerical techniques such as those presented here can supplement less formal insights. To illustrate I have classified twentyfive works (representing a diversity of well known theory approaches) by the presence or absence of forty-two traits (drawn from ideas about the logic-of-science). The procedures detailed here group these familiar works into "sensible" types based on social structure, social perceptions and positivistic methods. The classification also exposes underlying dimensions of individual versus group-based observations and theory-building versus theory-confirmation strategies. Having demonstrated the system can produce sensible results with familiar works, I can use it to identify atypical works, to compare social groups of theorists with types of thought, and to explore the nature of common, underlying dimensions.

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