Sociological Practice

Sociological Practice

Edited by: Derek Layder Published: 1998
Methods: Theory
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  • Copyright
  • List of Tables

    Table 1.1 Dimensions of theorizing in social research 10

    Table 4.1 Concept-indicator links 85

    Table 6.1 The main groupings of theoretical elements in adaptive theory 159

    Table 6.2 Sources of adaptive theory 163

  • List of Figures

    Figure 2.1 Elements of the research process 29

    Figure 6.1 The relations between extant theory, emergent data and adaptive theory 167

  • Preface

    My objectives in this book are twofold. First, to provide an introduction to approaches to the theory-research relation, and secondly, to develop an alternative which focuses on generating social theory in conjunction with ongoing empirical research. I call this alternative ‘adaptive theory’ because it combines the use of prior theory to lend order and pattern to research data while simultaneously adapting to the order and pattern contained in this emerging data. Although I describe it as an ‘alternative’, it also shares and builds upon key aspects of existing traditions in social theory and method. In this respect it is complementary to other approaches and hence may be employed alongside them. Adaptive theory is research-based but is related to and consistent with my ‘theory of social domains’ outlined in Modern Social Theory (1997). However, it also connects with, and in a certain sense grows out of, my work on research strategies (1993) and the philosophy of method (1990).

    Several people have been associated with the genesis of this book. Early on Paul Secord provided much needed support for some of the embryonic ideas. More immediately Chris and Robert Rojek of Sage and an anonymous reviewer encouraged me to go forward with the book. In its draft form Alison Drewett went over the entire manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and made some telling and extremely useful ‘interventions’ and suggestions. I have incorporated as many of these as possible. Similarly, Bob Carter read through the draft and made several important suggestions concerning amendments and possible inclusions. I must also thank Alison and Bob for the infectious enthusiasm with which they greeted the project and which undoubtedly fed into my own readiness to complete it. It goes without saying that none of the above people are in any way implicated in the shortcomings that this book may possess.

    The final revisions of the book were undertaken while I was a Visiting Fellow in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, Canberra in July-August 1997. I would like to thank the Centre, its staff and its Director, Graeme Clarke, for providing excellent facilities and support. During my stay at the ANU I greatly enjoyed the company of Alice Bullard, Jack Barbalet, Margot Lyon, and Doug Porpora. I also enjoyed and appreciated my visit to the Ashworth Centre for Social Theory, Melbourne University, at the invitation of the Director, John Rundell. Thanks are also due to Kate Spratley for her help and support.

    DerekLayder, December 1997
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