1. Intro, Tools for Theory, Origins of Theory

1. Intro, Tools for Theory, Origins of Theory -...

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Click to edit Master subtitle style  7/15/11 “the whole of science is nothing more than an  extension of everyday thinking” – Albert  Einstein Thinking about Society: Social Theory
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 7/15/11  What  is  social theory? A theory is any set of ideas that attempt to explain a  set of phenomena Social theory in particular are interrelated ideas that  allow for categorization, explanation, and prediction  (!) about past, present, and future social worlds. Note that most theories do not purport to explain “all”  phenomena (grand theory). We will discuss the notion of grand  theory and a given theory’s  explanatory power  in detail  throughout the semester. All aspects of social life are subject to theorization – 
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 7/15/11 Two perspectives on scientific theory Realism: A long-standing philosophical standpoint  which considers reality independent of human  interpretation or experience. There is an external  world of objects which follow natural facts and laws,  and it is up to  us  to discover these facts and laws. In contrast, much of social science and nearly all  contemporary social theory stands stems from a point  of view known as  social constructionism . The moderate interpretation of constructionism is that although  there is an external reality independent of humans, all we can  really  know is our interpretations or construction of our 
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 7/15/11 What do you see?
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 7/15/11 Look again. The point with  this  demonstration  is that even if  a single  objective  reality is  assumed, this  reality is  interpreted  differently  across time,  individuals,  and context.
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 7/15/11 The Concept of Concepts As social theorists, how do we make sense  of our  complex  and dynamic social world? Universally, humans build concepts – the process of  conceptualizing – to consider and sort their  experiences. Concepts are the building blocks of all  thought, scientific or otherwise.
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1. Intro, Tools for Theory, Origins of Theory -...

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