U02 Theory v2 - Theory Theory Dr Pamela Emanuelson...

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Unformatted text preview: Theory Theory Dr. Pamela Emanuelson Sociology 320 Spring 2009 2 Overview Overview What is a Theory Elements of a Theory Theory vs. Common Sense Problems with Common Sense Properties of Good Theories 3 Scientific Theory Scientific Theory A set of explicit, abstract, rigorous and logically related statements that explains a general class of phenomena within a prescribed domain Key components: Key components: scope conditions, terms, concepts, assumptions, initial conditions 4 Scope Conditions Scope Conditions A set of statements that define a domain of phenomena to which a theory applies For example: For example: This theory applies “in a perfect vacuum” This theory applies to “individuals working on a collective problem with a known solution” Protects the theory from unfair tests 5 What are Terms? What are Terms? A “term” is an undefined word whose meaning is assumed to be understood That is… That is… Terms are combined to form the basic building blocks of more abstract ideas; terms are undefined ideas Common terms include actor, task, the, a, plus, motivated, choice, and so on, to establish meaning The combination of “primitive” (or undefined) terms results in more complicated or novel ideas 6 What are Concepts? What are Concepts? A set of abstract and general ideas that underlie expressions in a theory; concepts are defined via primitive terms. Concepts are: Concepts are: Ideas that are the building blocks of a theory Defined via primitive terms Often insightful (cognitive dissonance; market; OPPO) Always provisional & subject to refinement as theoretical needs dictate; no “true” concepts 7 A Common Mistake A Common Mistake To treat concepts as if they have some objective, external, or true meaning This is called the Error of Reification:...
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U02 Theory v2 - Theory Theory Dr Pamela Emanuelson...

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