Sociological theory

Sociological theories are statements of how and why particular facts about the social world are related.[1] They range in scope from concise descriptions of a single social process to paradigms for analysis and interpretation. Some sociological theories explain aspects of the social world and enable prediction about future events,[2] while others function as broad perspectives which guide further sociological analyses.[3]

Sociological theory vs. social theory

Kenneth Allan[4] proposed the distinction between sociological theory and social theory. In Allan's usage, sociological theory consists of abstract and testable propositions about society.[4] It often heavily relies on the scientific method, which aims for objectivity, and attempts to avoid passing value judgments. In contrast, social theory, according to Allan, focuses on commentary and critique of modern society rather than explanation.[4] Social theory is often closer to Continental philosophy; thus, it is less concerned with objectivity and derivation of testable propositions, and more likely to pass normative judgments.[5]

Prominent sociological theorists include Talcott Parsons, Robert K. Merton, Randall Collins, James Samuel Coleman, Peter Blau, Niklas Luhmann, Marshal McLuhan, Immanuel Wallerstein, George Homans, Harrison White, Theda Skocpol, Gerhard Lenski, Pierre van den Berghe and Jonathan H. Turner.[5] Prominent social theorists include: Jürgen Habermas, Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault, Dorothy Smith, Roberto Unger, Alfred Schütz, Jeffrey Alexander, and Jacques Derrida.[5] There are also prominent scholars who could be seen as being in-between social and sociological theories, such as Harold Garfinkel, Herbert Blumer, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Pierre Bourdieu and Erving Goffman.[5]