Richard Swedberg, The Art of Social Theory

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It is a rare event when a new general field of research opens up within sociology. However, with this book, Richard Swedberg intends to do just that. It is not just another book on social theory. It is a book on ‘theorizing’. And that makes all the difference.
Swedberg has chosen the term ‘art’, but also ‘craft’, to emphasize the practical side of doing theory. This topic has been strangely absent, not just in sociology but in the social sciences in general. In order to see this absence, we should ask ourselves how education in sociology is conventionally organized. The answer is by a taken-for-granted division between courses in ‘method’ and courses in ‘theory’. In the former we teach methods in empirical research and in the latter the content of social theory. Omitted are courses in ‘how to theorize’. Theorizing is treated, in research and in coursework, as a tacit skill. It has seldom been subjected to systematic consideration.
Swedberg attributes this strange absence to what he sees as the miserable state of contemporary social theory. We must, he claims, avoid two misconceptions: ‘empiricism’ and ‘abstract theory’. In the first case, theory is reduced to the task of summarizing the outcome of empirical research. In the second case, theory is almost detached from empirical reality. ‘Grand Theory’ belongs, according to Swedberg, to the second, abstracted case. But his …
TidsskriftActa Sociologica
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)284-286
Antal sider3
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2015

ID: 142484199