Advertisement

Metatheorizing in Sociology: The Basic Parameters and the Potential Contributions of Postmodernism

  • George Ritzer
  • Shanyang Zhao
  • Jim Murphy
Chapter
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Conclusion

We have shown that metatheorizing is an integral part of theorizing in sociology. We have delineated four overarching philosophical frameworks within which sociological metatheorizing is practiced. Although positivists, hermeneuticists, and critical theorists would all study theory to gain a more profound understanding of it, to produce new theories, and to create new metatheories, there are differences among them in terms of their relative emphasis on the three specific types of metatheorizing (i.e., MK, Mp, and Mo) and the ways in which they would practice each. For example, while critical theorists would share these three goals, the accomplishment of each would be subordinated to the broader objective of transforming society.

While the first three philosophical approaches fit well with the three more specific types of metatheorizing, the same cannot be said about the fourth, postmodern approach. The three specific types all share a very modern orientation toward progress in understanding theory and metatheory. Postmodernists tend to reject the modern notion of progress in general, as well as in metatheoretical work. Postmodernists who study theory tend to have a very different sense of the objectives of such study. While it is possible to look at postmodern theory as a threat to modern forms of theorizing and metatheorizing, it is also possible to see it as offering an array of provocative new ideas that could be used by both. In our exposition we have adopted the latter view toward postmodern theory and see it as offering theorists and all types of metatheorists (and metatheorizing) a set of new ideas and tools that can be used in their work.

Keywords

Social Theory Critical Theorist Sociological Theory Theory Construction Grand Narrative 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Antonio, R. J. (1991). Postmodern storytelling versus pragmatic truth-seeking: The discursive bases of social theory. Sociological Theory, 9, 154–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barthes, R. (1977). Image-music-text. New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  3. Bitzer, L. (1968). The rhetorical situation. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 1, 1–14.Google Scholar
  4. Blalock, H. M., Jr. (1969). Theory construction: From verbal to mathematical formulation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1971). Intellectual field and creative project. In M. E D. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control (pp. 161–188). London: Collier-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Brewer, J., & Hunter, A. (1989). Multimethod research: A synthesis of style. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, R. H. (1992). Social science and society as discourse: Toward a sociology for civic competence. In S. Seidman & D. G. Wagner (Eds.), Postmodernism and social theory (pp. 223–243). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  8. Calhoun, C. (1992). Culture, history, and the problem of specificity in social theory. In S. Seidman & D. G. Wagner (Eds.), Postmodernism and social theory (pp. 244–288). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Collins, R. (1986). Is 1980s sociology in the doldrums? American Journal of Sociology, 91, 1336–1355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Comte, A. (1930/1942/1974). The positive philosophy. New York: AMS Press.Google Scholar
  11. Connolly, W. E. (1973). Theoretical self-consciousness. Polity, 6, 5–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cooper, H. M. (1984). The integrative research review: A systematic approach. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. de Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of everyday life. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Derrida, J. (1974). Ofgrammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Derrida, J. (1978). Writing and difference. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Diggins, J. P. (1999). Thorstein Veblen: Theorist of the leisure class. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dubin, R. (1969). Theory building. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  18. Eckberg, D. L., & Hill, L., Jr. (1979). The paradigm concept and sociology: A critical review. American Sociological Review, 44, 925–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Effrat, A. (1972). Power to the paradigms: An editorial introduction. Sociological Inquiry, 42, 3–33.Google Scholar
  20. Fiske, D. W., & Schweder, R. A. (Eds.). (1986). Metatheory in social science: Pluralism and subjectivities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Foucault, M. (1969/1971/1976). The archaeology of knowledge and the discourse of language. New York: Harper Colophon.Google Scholar
  22. Foucault, M. (1966/1973). The order of things: An archaeology of the human sciences. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  23. Freese, L. (Ed.). (1980). Theoretical methods in sociology. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  24. Friedrichs, R. W. (1970). A sociology of sociology. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  25. Fuhrman, E. R., & Snizek, W. (1990). Neither proscience nor antiscience: Metasociology as dialogue. Sociological Forum, 5, 17–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Furfey, P. H. (1965). The scope and method of sociology: A metasociological treatise. New York: Cooper Square.Google Scholar
  27. Gadamer, H.-G. (1975). Truth and method. New York: Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  28. Gibbs, J. P. (1972). Sociological theory construction. Hinsdale, IL: The Dryden Press.Google Scholar
  29. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. Giddens, A. (1987). Social theory and modern sociology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Genosko, G. (1994). Baudrillard and signs: Signification ablaze. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Gouldner, A. (1965). Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the origins of social theory. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  33. Gouldner, A. (1970). The coming crisis of Western sociology. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Hage, J. (1972). Techniques and problems of theory construction in sociology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Hage, J. (Ed.). (1994). Formal theory in sociology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hedstrom, P., & Swedberg, R. (Eds.). (1998). Social mechanisms: An analytical approach to social theory. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Hoecker-Drysdale, S. (2000). Harriet Martineau. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), The Blackwell companion to major social theorists (pp. 53–80). Oxford, England and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  38. Hoy, D. C. (1978). The critical circle. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  39. Hoy, D. C. (1985). Jacques Derrida. In Q. Skinner (Ed.), The return of grand theory in the human sciences (pp. 43–64). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Huaco, G. (1986). Ideology and general theory: The case of sociological functionalism. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 28, 34–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hunter, J. E., & Schmidt, F L. (1989). Methods of meta-analysis: Correcting error and bias in research findings. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kuhn, T. (1962/1970). The structure of scientific revolutions, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Levi-Strauss, C. (1966). The savage mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lemert, C. (2000). Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), The Blackwell companion to major social theorists (pp. 279–301). Oxford, England and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  46. Lengermann, P. M., & Niebrugge-Brantley, J. (Eds.). (1998). The women founders: Sociology and social theory, 1830–1930. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  47. Levine, D. N. (1995). Visions of the sociological tradition. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. Luhmann, N. (1995). Social systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Lzotard, J.-F. (1989). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  50. McMullin, E. (1970). The history and philosophy of science: A taxonomy. In R. H. Stuewer (Ed.), Historical and philosophical perspectives of science (pp. 12–67). Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.Google Scholar
  51. Merton, R. K. (1949/1957/1968). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  52. Mitzman, A. (1969). The iron cage: An historical interpretation of Max Weber. New York: Grosset and Dunlap.Google Scholar
  53. Mowitt, J. (1992). Text: The genealogy of an antidisciplinary object. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Mullins, N. C. (1971). The art of theory construction and use. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  55. Noblit, G. W., & Hare, R. D. (1988). Meta-ethnography: Synthesizing qualitative studies. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  56. Osterberg, D. (1988). Metasociology: An inquiry into the origins and validity of social thought. Oslo, Norway: Norwegian University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Parsons, T. (1937). The structure of social action. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  58. Parsons, T. (1979/1980). On theory and metatheory. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 7, 5–16.Google Scholar
  59. Radnitzky, G. (1973). Contemporary schools of metascience. Chicago: Henry Regnery.Google Scholar
  60. Reynolds, P. D. (1971). A primer in theory construction. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  61. Ritzer, G. (1975). Sociology: A multiple paradigm science. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  62. Ritzer, G. (1981). Toward an integrated sociological paradigm: The search for an exemplar and an image of the subject matter. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  63. Ritzer, G. (1988). Sociological metatheory: A defense of a subfield by a delineation of its parameters. Sociological Theory, 6, 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ritzer, G. (1990). Symposium: Metatheory: Its uses and abuses in contemporary sociology. Sociological Forum, 5, 1–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Ritzer, G. (1991a). Recent explorations in sociological metatheorizing. Sociological Perspectives, 34, 237–390.Google Scholar
  66. Ritzer, G. (1991b). Metatheorizing in sociology. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  67. Ritzer, G. (Ed.). (1992). Metatheorizing. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  68. Ritzer, G. (Ed.). (2000). The Blackwell companion to major social theorists. Oxford, England and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  69. Ritzer, G., Wiedenhoft, W., & Murphy, J. (2001). Thorstein Veblen in the age of hyperconsumption. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), Fast food, credit cards and the cathedrals of consumption: Explorations in the sociology of consumption (pp. 203–221). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  70. Rorty, R. (1979). Philosophy and the mirror of nature. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Rorty, R. (1989). Contingency, irony, and solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  72. Rule, J. B. (1994). Dilemmas of theoretical progress. Sociological Forum, 9, 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Seidman, S. (1991). The end of sociological theory: The postmodern hope. Sociological Theory, 9, 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Skocpol, T. (1986). The dead end of metatheory. Contemporary Sociology, 16, 10–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Sorokin, P (1928). Contemporary sociological theories. New York: Harper Brothers.Google Scholar
  76. Spivak, G. (1974). Translator’s preface. In J. Derrida, Ofgrammatology (pp. ix–lxxxvii). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Stinchcombe, A. L. (1968). Constructing social theory. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  78. Sturrock, J. (1979). Roland Barthes. In J. Sturrock, Structuralism and since (pp. 52–80). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Swartz, D. (1997). Culture and power: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  80. Taylor, C. (1985). Philosophy and the human sciences: Philosophical papers 2. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Tiryakian, E. (1979). The significance of schools in the development of sociology. In W. Snizek, E. Fuhrman, & M. K. Miller (Eds.), Contemporary issues in theory and research (pp. 211–233). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  82. Tiryakian, E. (1986). Hegemonic schools and the development of sociology: Rethinking the history of the discipline. In R. C. Monk (Ed.), Structures of knowing (pp. 417–441). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  83. Turner, J. (Ed.). (1989). Theory building in sociology: Assessing theoretical cumulation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  84. Turner, J. (1991). The structure of sociological theory, 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  85. Turner, S. P., & Turner, J. H. (1990). The impossible science: An institutional analysis of American sociology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  86. Wacquant, L. J. D. (1996). Toward a reflexive sociology: A workshop with Pierre Bourdieu. In S. P. Turner (Ed.), Social theory and sociology: The classics and beyond (pp. 213–228). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  87. Wagner, D. G. (1984). The growth of sociological theories. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  88. Wallace, W. (1988). Toward a disciplinary matrix in sociology. In N. Smelser (Ed.), Handbook of sociology (pp. 1–59). Chicago: Aldive.Google Scholar
  89. Weber, M. (1904–1905/1958). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. NY: Scribner’s.Google Scholar
  90. Weber, M. (1921/1968). Economy and society. Totowa, NJ: Bedminster Press.Google Scholar
  91. Weber, M. (1896–1906/1976). The agrarian sociology of ancient civilizations. London: New Left Books.Google Scholar
  92. Weinstein, D., & Weinstein, M. A. (1992). The postmodern discourse of metatheory. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), Metatheorizing (pp. 135–150). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  93. White, H. (1978). Tropics of discourse. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  94. Willer, D. (1967). Scientific sociology: Theory and method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  95. Wolf, F. M. (1986). Meta-analysis: Quantitative methods for research synthesis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  96. Zetterberg, H. L. (1954/1963/1965). On theory and verification in sociology. Totowa, NJ: The Bedminster Press.Google Scholar
  97. Zhao, S. (1996). The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? The theory construction movement revisited. Sociological Forum, 11, 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Ritzer
  • Shanyang Zhao
  • Jim Murphy

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations