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Theorizing in sociology and social science: turning to the context of discovery

Richard Swedberg
Theory and Society
Vol. 41, No. 1 (January 2012), pp. 1-40
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41349133
Page Count: 40
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Theorizing in sociology and social science: turning to the context of discovery
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Abstract

Since World War II methods have advanced very quickly in sociology and social science, while this has not been the case with theory. In this article I suggest that one way of beginning to close the gap between the two is to focus on theorizing rather than on theory. The place where theorizing can be used in the most effective way, I suggest, is in the context of discovery. What needs to be discussed are especially ways for how to develop theory before hypotheses are formulated and tested. To be successful in this, we need to assign an independent place to theorizing and also to develop some basic rules for how to theorize. An attempt is made to formulate such rules; it is also argued that theorizing can only be successful if it is done in close unison with observation in what is called a prestudy. Theorizing has turned into a skill when it is iterative, draws on intuitive ways of thinking, and goes beyond the basic rules for theorizing.

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