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Introduction

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Sociological Theory
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Abstract

What is sociological theory? Because I am involved in ethnographic research—ethnography implies, first and foremost, observing and describing—I believe that a more inclusive formal definition of sociological theory must comprise Auguste Comte’s basic notion that sociology is based on observation. Here is my definition influenced by Ann Swidler’s concept of “tool kit”: Sociological theory is a repertoire or tool kit providing concepts and hypotheses to observe, describe, explain, and predict social phenomena. I like to use the term “tool kit” because the number of social theorists who create their theories through a combination of different theories is increasing. On the other hand, I prefer to speak of “hypotheses” because many theorists do not test their theories with empirical research. They develop concepts, hypotheses, and theories that they leave for others to verify. Finally, I use the concept of “tool kit” because it expresses quite well the flexibility and freedom of action that characterizes ethnographers when doing field research.

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Orsini, A. (2024). Introduction. In: Sociological Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-52539-1_1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-52539-1_1

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