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Consequences of Realism for Sociological Theory-Building

Brante, Thomas LU (2001) In Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 31(2). p.167-195
Abstract
It is argued that the Achilles heel of contemporary sociology – and great parts of social science – is a) weak theory development, and b) absence of a meta-theory providing a common platform and a shared goal for its practitioners, fostering cumulativity. A meta-theory called causal realism (a variant of critical realism) is suggested for these purposes. The main tenets and key concepts of realism, such as causality and explanation, mechanism, stratified reality, are presented. Thereafter, via an analogy to the physical sciences, it is argued that a natural implication of realism and the search for causal mechanisms is a division of society into levels. The micro-macro issue is approached by a level-ontology for the development of... (More)
It is argued that the Achilles heel of contemporary sociology – and great parts of social science – is a) weak theory development, and b) absence of a meta-theory providing a common platform and a shared goal for its practitioners, fostering cumulativity. A meta-theory called causal realism (a variant of critical realism) is suggested for these purposes. The main tenets and key concepts of realism, such as causality and explanation, mechanism, stratified reality, are presented. Thereafter, via an analogy to the physical sciences, it is argued that a natural implication of realism and the search for causal mechanisms is a division of society into levels. The micro-macro issue is approached by a level-ontology for the development of sociological theory. Five levels are suggested, discussed and briefly exemplified. In the concluding remarks, some further positive implications of realism to sociology are touched upon. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
causality, stratified reality, sociology, macro- meso- micro, social level, social science, realism, mechanism
in
Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
volume
31
issue
2
pages
167 - 195
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN
0021-8308
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
33b74337-b4d5-4ba5-8d7c-4b7e6f6ce792 (old id 619746)
date added to LUP
2007-12-07 09:50:18
date last changed
2018-05-29 11:39:27
@article{33b74337-b4d5-4ba5-8d7c-4b7e6f6ce792,
  abstract     = {It is argued that the Achilles heel of contemporary sociology – and great parts of social science – is a) weak theory development, and b) absence of a meta-theory providing a common platform and a shared goal for its practitioners, fostering cumulativity. A meta-theory called causal realism (a variant of critical realism) is suggested for these purposes. The main tenets and key concepts of realism, such as causality and explanation, mechanism, stratified reality, are presented. Thereafter, via an analogy to the physical sciences, it is argued that a natural implication of realism and the search for causal mechanisms is a division of society into levels. The micro-macro issue is approached by a level-ontology for the development of sociological theory. Five levels are suggested, discussed and briefly exemplified. In the concluding remarks, some further positive implications of realism to sociology are touched upon.},
  author       = {Brante, Thomas},
  issn         = {0021-8308},
  keyword      = {causality,stratified reality,sociology,macro- meso- micro,social level,social science,realism,mechanism},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {167--195},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour},
  title        = {Consequences of Realism for Sociological Theory-Building},
  volume       = {31},
  year         = {2001},
}