Modes of Critique and the Theoretical Analysis of Discourse

  • Stephen P. Savage


In an investigation of this kind it is necessary to pose as a separate issue the general question of modes of analysis of texts, theories, discourses and so on, if such an analysis is to be realised on rigorous and systematic grounds. To be more specific, an explicit and determinate formulation of the mode of operation to be utilised in the critique of Parsons is imperative if it is to avoid repetition of the tendencies of previous attempts which, it will be argued, are highly problematic. The object of this chapter, therefore, is to pose the general problem of ‘criticism’, to outline and discuss various modes of critique dominant in this area and to present the elements of a mode of analysis of discourse which make possible the rigorous theoretical critique of sociological theory.


Social Theory Logical Relation Realist Mode Infinite Regress Action Frame 
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  1. 5.
    For an extended discussion of the variant forms of epistemology and the consequences of them for the theorisation of knowledge, see Barry Hindess, ‘Transcendentalism and History: the Problem of the History of Philosophy and the Sciences in the Later Philosophy of Husserl’, Economy and Society, 2 (Aug 1973) pp. 309–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 7.
    Other famous examples are D. Foss, ‘The World View of Talcott Parsons’ in M. R. Stein and A. Vidich (eds), Sociology on Trial; R. Dahrendorf, ‘Out of Utopia’, American Journal of Sociology, 64[2] (1958) pp. 115–27. While there would appear to be no reason why criticisms according to ideological characteristics of a theoretical position cannot be effectively advanced, it would seem that these and other examples are both theoretically and politically backward.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 32.
    Enno Schwanenberg, ‘The Two Problems of Order in Parsons’ Theory: an Analysis from Within’, Social Forces, 49 (1971) pp. 569–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 33.
    Alan Dawe, ‘The Two Sociologies’, British Journal of Sociology, 21 (1970) pp. 207–18 (reference here to the edition published in Sociological Perspectives, ed. Thompson and Tunstall; this quote from p. 543).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Stephen P. Savage 1981

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  • Stephen P. Savage

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