Sociological theories are not fixed and static ideas but developing ones, which change in tandem with theorists’ learning processes. There is a practice among social scientists of cherry-picking convenient aspects of theories to fit set research aims, but not understanding theories holistically and in process opens the door to misinterpretation and discretisation. This dataset demonstrates methods of learning about theories methodologically, using theoretical texts “as data” to discern developments over the course of the writing. Firstly, it advises how to read a theorist’s body of work systematically, and secondly, it shows how to trace a particular theory in process within this. The exemplar follows the development of Norbert Elias’s theory of established–outsiders relations using The Collected Works of Norbert Elias (UCD Press, 2006–2014), and the proposed methods of analysis could also be used to learn about a range of theories and theorists. The dataset files are accompanied by a Teaching Guide and a Student Guide.
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