Freedom and Control in Modern Society

By Morroe Berger; Theodore Abel | Go to book overview

2
FRIENDSHIP AS SOCIAL PROCESS: A SUBSTANTIVE AND METHODOLOGICAL ANALYSIS

PAUL F. LAZARSFELD AND ROBERT K. MERTON


INTRODUCTION

In certain respects, the field of sociology can be aptly described in terms of numerous schools of substantive theory. In a book such as Sorokin's Contemporary Sociological Theories, for example, each school is marked off from the others by the substantive class of "factors" which it provisionally takes as the basic determinant of social and cultural patterns; factors such as the geographic or the biological, the demographic, economic, or technological. Increasingly, however, such a description needs to be supplemented by others. Not, of course, that these schools of thought have dropped from sight, but only that they no longer constitute the major forms for organizing the greater part of work now going forward in sociology. Indeed, the major alignments are not so much in terms of schools emphasizing different substantive factors as in terms of what might be called styles of intellectual life.

One such line of division is that between the generalizers and the empiricists, between the sociologists primarily concerned with developing substantive doctrines which go well beyond presently available data and the sociologists primarily concerned with extending the range of certified facts in hand. Another line of division, and the one most in point for this chapter, is that between sociological theories which, comprised of concepts and propositions about social behavior, are substantive in character, and methodology

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