Key Problems of Sociological Theory

By John Rex | Go to book overview

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CONCLUSIONS: THE SCOPE OF SOCIOLOGY

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

THE aim of this book has been to emphasize the importance of sociological theory in research and to discuss in general terms some of the problems which continually recur in any attempt to construct a sociological theory. We are now in a position to review the conclusions which we have reached and to suggest what the problems are, with which a theoretically-oriented sociology is competent to deal.


(i) The Role of Theory in Sociology

In each of the first three chapters we emphasized the important role which theory had to play in sociological research. In the first chapter we showed that, whatever the conception of science held by the sociologist, careful consideration of the methods of investigation proposed in terms of that conception showed that some sort of theoretical construction was necessary. In the second chapter we reviewed some of the major fields of sociological research in which an empiricist or historicist approach had been predominant. In these cases we argued that either the conclusions reached were not necessarily sociologically relevant conclusions, or that the conclusions, although sociologically relevant, were unclear, because terms referring to social facts were ill-defined. In the third chapter we showed that the field of sociological study could not be settled by some sort of ostensive definition but required the development of a special theoretical frame of reference in terms of which data which were

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