The Art of Social Theory

The Art of Social Theory

Richard Swedberg

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780691155227

Publisher: Princeton University Press


In the social sciences today, students are taught theory by reading and analyzing the works of Karl Marx, Max Weber, and other foundational figures of the discipline. What they rarely learn, however, is how to actually theorize. This book is a practical guide to doing just that. This user manual for social theorists explains how theorizing occurs in what the book calls the context of discovery, a process in which the researcher gathers preliminary data and thinks creatively about it using tools such as metaphor, analogy, and typology. The book guides readers through each step of the theorist's art, from observation and naming to concept formation and explanation. To theorize well, you also need a sound knowledge of existing social theory. The book introduces readers to the most important theories and concepts, and discusses how to go about mastering them. If you can think, you can also learn to theorize. This book shows you how. The book features helpful examples throughout, and also provides practical exercises that enable readers to learn through doing.