The Making of Social Theory

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 34 (4):515-528 (2012)
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This article analyzes the practice of making social theory in terms of the changing styles manifested in writing social theory texts. It is claimed that, taken generally, "writing" social theory has not moved beyond its most widespread form of being an exercise in the systematic treatment of the phenomena under study rather than being a genuine problem-solving activity. As demonstrated on selected historical examples of "writing" social theory, it seems evident that there is no standard form or style of "making" social theory apart from commentary. And that social theory, unlike related styles of academic writing, uses "commentary" not as a part of the argument being elaborated, but as a standard and routine way of making knowledge claims. It is argued here that commentary is not the basic method only in the contemporary and largely educational and instructive forms of social theory, but also in the supposedly original achievements of the field's leading figures. The argument elaborated here suggests that the inability to arrive at a standard form of "making" social theory may be a consequence of individual, authentic, original, creative thinking drawing its inspiration from sources that are heavily derivative and sometimes permeated by very chaotic and strenuous efforts to demonstrate the coherence of the thinking that it some way refers to the social world.
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