Sociological Forum

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 283–299 | Cite as

Denying the data: Learning from the accomplished sciences

  • Eric M. Leifer


Accomplished sciences are distinguished by an active orientation to data. Rather than explaining passive observations or even laboratory results, these sciences put a premium on creating effects or objects never before observed. Theories provide a basis for denying the data, in showing how nature can be better organized to produce some new effect or object. In this paper, a method for constructing these theories is developed. A sociological application is carried out to the point where an accomplishment is claimed. A very peculiar object is discovered — a relationship. Though it does not resemble anything we may have ever observed, it offers to groping actors a guide to something that works and hence could become something that is commonly observed. Likely scruples are addressed that might block the pursuit of such accomplishments.

Key words

theory construction symmetries methods relationships accomplishment science 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric M. Leifer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyColumbia UniversityNew York

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