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soc300 theory intro

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Jeff Sallaz

on 18 January 2018

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Transcript of soc300 theory intro

What is theory?


Epistemology of Folk Theory

1) Implicit. "Common sense,"
the stuff "everybody knows."

2) Oral transmission: Think of proverbs, songs, tales.

3) Reasoning via direct observation, analogy, dualism

4) In/out group distinction
Scientific Theory
stated, written down. Think of a book or conference presentation.

2) Empiricism: Supports or refutes knowledge claims with evidence.

3) Conveyed via advanced learning (literacy, math, logic), and within "epistemic communities" of experts.
1: It tells a story about history:
How did things come to be the way they are?
Grand Social Theory
2: Analysis of current society via *novel* concepts
3: Boldly predicts where
the future will take us
How to Read Theory
-Pace Yourself. Go slowly. Take it a paragraph at a time.

-Write as you read. Highlight text. Annotate margins. Take reading notes. *Reverse engineer the work.*

-Converse with the author:
-Inquire as to his/her epistemology.
-Think of follow-up questions.
(First writing)
(Homo sapiens invent language)
(Printing Press)
Enlightenment (1776ish)
If Empiricism wins, why so many theories?
Godfrey-Smith on the dilemmas of empiricism.
Lemert: A Democratic Social Theorist!
How should we evaulate Folk Theory?
3) The Good: It's didactic, it's efficient, it's fun, we're hard-wired for it.

4) The Bad: It's often wrong.
John Snow,
Hero of empiricism
John Snow,
Hero of empiricism
= (1) Tabla Rasa problem
(2) The Agency
-Can we apply scientific theory to human beings? Is social theory possible?
What is theory? What is social theory?

Who theorizes?

How do we study a specific theory? (epistemology)

Are there different types of theories?

How do we read theory?

How do we evaluate theories?

Theory: A story a group tells itself in order to explain or understand something.
1) Categories of analysis (ontology)
2) Relationships among things (causes)
3) Assumptions (e.g., human-nature)
4) Procedures (knowledge collection, evaluation, transmission)
Folk Theory in Historical Perspective
Charles Lemert
Heroes of Scientific Theory
Branch Rickey (1881-1965)
Ivory Latta
Russell Wlson
Jackie Robinson
Natural Scientific Theory
Social Scientific Theory
Is it possible to theorize scientifically about human beings?
This brings up the question of what humans (homo sapiens) are, and what sort of methods we need to study them.
Democratizing Theory:
...from an epistemological standpoint, we will differentiate between 2 types of theory--
...so what do we call theories about theories?
What distinguishes human is our capacity to "theorize"!
What two theorists does Lemert begin his book with?
Full transcript