Constructing Social Theories
Arthur L. Stinchcombe University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress HM24.S76 1987 | Dewey Decimal 301.01
Constructing Social Theories presents to the reader a range of strategies for constructing theories, and in a clear, rigorous, and imaginative manner, illustrates how they can be applied. Arthur L. Stinchcombe argues that theories should not be invented in the abstract—or applied a priori to a problem—but should be dictated by the nature of the data to be explained. This work was awarded the Sorokin prize by the American Sociological Association as the book that made an outstanding contribution to the progress of sociology in 1970.
The Logic of Social Research
Arthur L. Stinchcombe University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress HM511.S75 2005 | Dewey Decimal 301.072
Arthur L. Stinchcombe has earned a reputation as a leading practitioner of methodology in sociology and related disciplines. Throughout his distinguished career he has championed the idea that to be an effective sociologist, one must use many methods. This incisive work introduces students to the logic of those methods.
The Logic of Social Research orients students to a set of logical problems that all methods must address to study social causation. Almost all sociological theory asserts that some social conditions produce other social conditions, but the theoretical links between causes and effects are not easily supported by observation. Observations cannot directly show causation, but they can reject or support causal theories with different degrees of credibility. As a result, sociologists have created four main types of methods that Stinchcombe terms quantitative, historical, ethnographic, and experimental to support their theories. Each method has value, and each has its uses for different research purposes.
Accessible and astute, The Logic of Social Research offers an image of what sociology is, what it's all about, and what the craft of the sociologist consists of.
In this innovative exploration of the concept of formality, or governing by abstraction, Arthur Stinchcombe breathes new life into an idea that scholars have all but ignored in recent years.
We have come to assume that governing our social activities by advance planning—by creating abstract descriptions of what ought to happen and adjusting these descriptions as situations change—is not as efficient and responsive as dealing directly with the real substance of the situation at hand. Stinchcombe argues the opposite. When a plan is designed to correct itself and keep up with the reality it is meant to govern, it can be remarkably successful. He points out a wide range of examples where this is the case, including architectural blueprints, immigration law, the construction of common law by appeals courts, Fannie Mae's secondary mortgage market, and scientific paradigms and programs.
Arguing that formality has been misconceived as consisting mainly of its defects, Stinchcombe shows how formality, at its best, can serve us much better than ritual obedience to poorly laid plans or a romantic appeal to "real life."