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The Relationship between Theory and Research: A Study in the Sociology of Sociology

William E. Snizek
The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 16, No. 3 (Summer, 1975), pp. 415-428
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Midwest Sociological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4105751
Page Count: 14
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The Relationship between Theory and Research: A Study in the Sociology of Sociology
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Abstract

While the importance of the relationship between theory and research is given credence in sociology, little has been done in delineating the specific nature of such a relationship. In order to do so, the present article examines data concerning the theoretical orientation and methodological procedures employed by the authors of 1,434 articles (in five substantive areas) which have appeaied in nine major sociological journals over the period 1950 to 1970. Analysis of these data reveals the presence of a strong affinity between the utilization of a realist theoretical perspective, centering upon the study of group properties, and the employment of less empirical research techniques. Conversely, those authors shown to employ a nominalist theoretical approach, and hence those focusing upon individual properties, were found to use more empirical techniques and procedures in their research. Further analysis of the relationship between the theoretical and methodological orientations utilized by the authors surveyed appears to indicate some tendency for one's mode of data analysis to be as much a reason for, as a function of, one's theoretical perspective.

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