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Social theory refers to the use of abstract and often complex theoretical frameworks to explain and analyze social patterns and large-scale social structures. This article is about the concept of abstraction in general. ... In mathematics, theory is used informally to refer to a body of knowledge about mathematics. ... Social structure (also referred to as a social system) is a system of social relations. ...


Though many commentators consider social theory a branch of sociology, it inherently functions in an interdisciplinary manner, as it uses ideas from and contributes to a plethora of disciplines such as anthropology, economics, theology, history, and many others. Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Interdisciplinary work is that which integrates concepts across different disciplines. ... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, human) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... U.S. Economic Calendar Economics at the Open Directory Project Economics textbooks on Wikibooks The Economists Economics A-Z Institutions and organizations Bureau of Labor Statistics - from the American Labor Department Center for Economic and Policy Research (USA) National Bureau of Economic Research (USA) - Economics material from the organization... Theology is reasoned discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). It also refers to the study of other religious topics. ... ...


Social theory attempts to answer the question 'what is?', not 'what should be?'. One should therefore not confuse it with philosophy or with belief. Philosophy is a discipline or field of study involving the investigation, analysis, and development of ideas at a general, abstract, or fundamental level. ... Look up belief in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Contents


Social theory in relation to hard science

Main Article: Sociology vs. Social Theory This page needs attention and peer review. ...


Social theory always had an uneasy relationship with the more traditional academic disciplines; many of its key thinkers never held a university position. Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ...


Compared to workers in disciplines within the “objectivenatural sciences -- such as physics or chemistry -- social theorists may make less use of the scientific method and of other fact-based methods to prove a point. Instead, they tackle very large-scale social trends and structures using hypotheses that they cannot easily prove, except over the course of time. Criticism from opponents of social theories often object to this. Extremely critical theorists, such as deconstructionists or postmodernists, may argue that any type of research or method has inherent flaws. Often, however, thinkers may present their ideas as social theory because the social reality that those ideas describe appears so overarching as to remain unprovable. The social theories of modernity or anarchy can exemplify this. Template:Wiktionarypar objective Objective may be: Objective lens, an optical element in a camera or microscope. ... The term natural science as the way in which different fields of study are defined is determined as much by historical convention as by the present day meaning of the words. ... Since antiquity, people have tried to understand the behavior of matter: why unsupported objects drop to the ground, why different materials have different properties, and so forth. ... Chemistry (in Greek: χημεία) is the science of matter that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo. ... The characterization element can require extended and extensive study, even centuries. ... A hypothesis (= assumption in ancient Greek) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. ... The term deconstruction is often used in a loose way as a synonym of critical analysis, especially the kind of uncooperative critical analysis that subjects a work or a text to close scrutiny in order to expose contradictions, poor logic or unwelcome affinities with other works or cultural objects. ... Postmodernism (sometimes abbreviated pomo) is a term applied to a wide-ranging set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture, which are generally characterized as either emerging from, in reaction to, or superseding, modernism. ... Modernity is a term used to describe the condition of being Modern. Since the term Modern is used to describe a wide range of periods, modernity must be taken in context. ... Anarchy can refer to several different things: The word anarchy, referring to an absence of government. ...


However, social theories still play a major part in the sciences of sociology, anthropology, economics, and others. Objective science-based research often begins with a hypothesis formed from a social theory. Likewise, science-based research can often provide support for social theories or can spawn new ones. Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, human) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... U.S. Economic Calendar Economics at the Open Directory Project Economics textbooks on Wikibooks The Economists Economics A-Z Institutions and organizations Bureau of Labor Statistics - from the American Labor Department Center for Economic and Policy Research (USA) National Bureau of Economic Research (USA) - Economics material from the organization...


Statistical research grounded in the scientific method, for instance, that finds a severe income disparity between women and men performing the same occupation can complement the underlying premises of the complex social theories of feminism or of patriarchy. Income disparity is an inequality in pay or salary for equal labor. ... Feminism is a diverse collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies, largely motivated by or concerning the experiences of women, especially in terms of their social, political, and economic situation. ... Patriarchy (from Greek: patria meaning father and arché meaning rule) is the anthropological term used to define the sociological condition where male members of a society tend to predominate in positions of power; with the more powerful the position, the more likely it is that a male will hold that...


In general, and in particular among adherents of pure sociology, social theory has an appeal because it takes the focus away from the individual (the way in which most humans look at the world) and focuses it on the society itself and the social forces which control individuals' lives. This sociological insight (often termed the sociological imagination) has appealed to students and others dissatisfied with the status quo because it looks beyond the assumption of societal structures and patterns as purely random. Pure Sociology is an approach invented by Donald Black, initially to explain variation in legal behavior and later applied to a broad range of forms of conflict management as well as to the distribution of ideas, science, art, and God. ... Sociological imagination is a sociological term thought up by American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959. ... In ordinary language, the word random is used to express apparent lack of purpose or cause. ...


History

Pre-classical social theorists

Prior to 19th century, social theory took largely narrative and normative traits. Versed in story form, it both assumed ethical principles and recommended moral acts. Thus one can regard religious figures as the earliest theorists. St. Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine were concerned exclusively with a just society. St. Augustine describes late Ancient Roman society but through a lens of hatred and contempt for what he believed for false Gods, and in reaction theorized The City of God. Similarly, in China, Master Kong (otherwise known as Confucius) theorized a just society that when beyond the actual society of Warring States. Later on, also in China, Mozi recommended a more pragmatic sociology, but ethical at base. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Narrative is a term which has several and changing meanings. ... In philosophy, normative is usually contrasted with descriptive or explanatory when describing types of theories, beliefs, or statements. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 - March 7, 1274) was a Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, who gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Roman Catholic Church. ... St. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that existed in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East between 753 BC and its downfall in AD 476. ... This article is about deities or gods from a non-monotheistic perspective. ... This article is about the work by Augustine. ... Names and descendants The Jesuits, while translating Chinese books into Western languages, translated 孔夫子 as Confucius. ... [edit] Confucius (traditionally September 28 551 BCE–479 BCE) was a famous thinker and social philosopher of China, whose teachings have deeply influenced East Asia for centuries. ... Alternative meaning: Warring States Period (Japan) The Warring States Period (traditional Chinese: 戰國時代, simplified Chinese: 战国时代 pinyin Zhànguó Shídài) takes place from sometime in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by Qin in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern... Mozi (c. ...


Classical Social Theory

The first “modern” social theories (known as classical theories) that begin to resemble the analytic social theory of today developed almost simultaneously with the birth of the sociology science itself. Auguste Comte, known as 'father of sociology', laid the groundwork for one of the first social theories - social evolutionism. In the 19th century three great classical theories of social and historical change were created: the social evolutionism theory (of which Social Darwinism is a part of), the social cycle theory and the Marxist historical materialism theory. Auguste Comte Auguste Comte (full name Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte) (January 17 (recorded January 19), 1798 - September 5, 1857) was a positivist thinker and came up with the term of sociology to name the new science made by Saint-Simon. ... Social Evolutionism is a athropological and sociological social theory that holds that societies progress through stages of increasing development, i. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Social Evolutionism is a athropological and sociological social theory that holds that societies progress through stages of increasing development, i. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Social cycle theory (also known as sociological theory of cycles) is one of the earliest social theories in sociology. ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... Historical materialism (or what Marx himself preferred to call the materialist conception of history - materialistischen Geschichtsauffassung) is a social theory and an approach to the study of history and sociology, normally considered as the intellectual basis of Marxism. ...


Another early theorist, Herbert Spencer, coined the term "survival of the fittest" and recommended avoidance of governmental action on behalf of the poor (socialism) as a positive act. Vilfredo Pareto and Pitrim A. Sorokin argued that 'history goes in cycles', and created the social cycle theory to illustrate their point. Emile Durkheim postulated a number of landmark theories regarding anomie and functionalism. Max Weber theorized on bureaucracy, religion, and authority. Karl Marx theorized on the class struggle and social progress towards communism and laid the groundwork for the theory that became known as Marxism. Marxism became more than a theory, of course, carrying deep implications over the course of 20th century history (including the Russian Revolution of 1917). Herbert Spencer. ... Herbert Spencer coined the phrase survival of the fittest Survival of the fittest is a phrase which is a shorthand for a concept relating to competition for survival or predominance. ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ... Vilfredo Pareto (born July 15, 1848 in France - died August 19, 1923 in Lausanne, Switzerland) made several important contributions to economics, sociology and moral philosophy, especially in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals choices. ... Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968) immigrated from Russia to the United States in 1923 where he founded the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. ... Social cycle theory (also known as sociological theory of cycles) is one of the earliest social theories in sociology. ... David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 - November 15, 1917) is known as the founder of modern sociology. ... Anomie, in contemporary English, means the absence of any kind of rule, law, principle or order. ... Functionalism is a term with several senses: For functionalism in sociology, see Functionalism (sociology). ... Maximilian Weber (April 21, 1864 – June 14, 1920) was a German political economist and sociologist who is considered one of the founders of the modern, antipositivistic study of sociology and public administration. ... Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science. ... In politics, authority generally refers to the ability to make laws, independent of the power to enforce them, or the ability to permit something. ... Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883 London, UK) was an influential German philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary organizer of the International Workingmens Association. ... Class struggle is class conflict looked at from a Marxist, libertarian socialist, or anarchist perspective. ... Social progress is defined as a progress of society, which makes this society better. ... Communism refers to a theoretical system of social organization and a political movement based on common ownership of the means of production. ... Marxism is the political practice and social theory based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... The phrase Russian Revolution can refer to the following events in the history of Russia. ... 1917 was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. ...


Most of the 19th century pioneers of social theory and sociology, like Saint-Simon, Comte, Marx, John Stuart Mill or Spencer, never held university posts. They were considered, by in large, philosophers, because much of the their thinking was interdisciplinary and "outside the box" of the existing disciplines of their time (eg:, philology, law, and history). John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873), an English philosopher and political economist, was an influential classical liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... A philosopher is a person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy. ... Philology is the study of ancient texts and languages. ... Aphorism Critical legal studies Jurisprudence Law (principle) Legal research Letter versus Spirit List of legal abbreviations Legal code Natural justice Natural law Philosophy of law Religious law External links Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Law Look up law on Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... ...


Many of the classical theories had one common factor: they all agreed that the history of humanity is pursuing a certain fixed path. They differed on where that path would lead: social progress, technological progress, etc. Social cycle theorists were much more skeptical of the Western achievements and technological progress, however, arguing that progress is but an illusion in of the ups and downs of the historical cycles. The classical approach, close to historicism, has been criticized by many modern sociologists and theorists, among them Karl Popper, Robert Nisber, Charles Tilly and Immanuel Wallerstein. This article discusses the human history of the world. ... Social progress is defined as a progress of society, which makes this society better. ... Origins of theory According to Czech philosopher Radovan Richta, in his 1967 publication “Man and Technology in the Revolution of Our Day”, technology (which he defines as “a material entity created by the application of mental and physical effort to nature in order to achieve some value”) evolves in three... Historicism has developed different and divergent, though loosely related, meanings. ... Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian-born philosopher of science. ... Immanuel Wallerstein (born 1930) is a U.S. sociologist. ...


Modern Social Theory

Although the majority of 19th-century social theories now class as obsolete, they have spawned new, modern social theories. Some modern social theories represent some advanced version of the classical theories, like Multilineal theories of evolution (neoevolutionism, sociobiology, theory of modernization, theory of post-industrial society) and various strains of Neo-Marxism. Multilineal evolution is a 20th century social theory about the evolution of societies and cultures. ... Neoevolutionism is a social theory that tried to explain the evolution of societies by drawing on Charles Darwins theory of evolution and discarding some dogmas of the previous social evolutionism. ... Sociobiology is a synthesis of scientific disciplines that attempts to explain behaviour in all species by considering the evolutionary advantages of social behaviours. ... Sociocultural evolution(ism) is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution, describing how cultures and societies have developed over time. ... A post-industrial society is a proposed name for an economy that has undergone a specific series of changes in structure after a process of industrialization. ... Neo-Marxism was a 20th century school that harked back to the early writings of Marx before the influence of Engels which focused on dialectical idealism rather than dialectical materialism, and thus rejected the economic determinism of early Marx, focusing instead on a non-physical, psychological revolution. ...


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, by a more or less arbitrary division of topics, the social theory became most closely related to academic sociology while other subjects such as anthropology, philosophy, and social work branched out into their own disciplines. Such subjects as "philosophy of history" withered, and their subject matter became part of social theory as taught in sociology. Social interactions of people and their consequences are the subject of sociology studies. ... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, human) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... Philosophy is a discipline or field of study involving the investigation, analysis, and development of ideas at a general, abstract, or fundamental level. ... A Social Worker is [[a person who has obtained a professional degree either as a BSW,MSW, or DSW/Ph. ... The philosophy of history asks at least these questions: what is the proper unit for the study of the human past? the individual, the city or sovereign territory, the civilization, or nothing less than the whole of the species?; what broad patterns can we discern through the study of the...


Attempts to recapture a space for discussion free of disciplines began in earnest in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The Frankfurt Institute for Social Research was the most successful example. The Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago followed in the 1940s. In the 1970s, programs in Social and Political Thought were established at Sussex and York. Others followed, with various different emphases and structures, such as Social Theory and History (University of California, Davis). Cultural Studies programs, notably that of Birmingham University, extended the concerns of social theory into the domain of culture and thus anthropology. A chair and undergraduate program in social theory was established at the University of Melbourne and a number of universities now specialize in social theory (UC-Santa Cruz is one example). Finally social theory seems to be gaining more acceptance as a classical academic discipline. Sometimes referred to as the Jazz Age or primarily in North America as the Roaring Twenties. // Events and trends Since the closing of the 20th Century, the 1920s has drawn close associations with the 1990s, and particularly in the United States. ... // Events and trends The 1930s were spent struggling for a solution to the global depression. ... The Frankfurt School is a school of neo-Marxist social theory, social research, and philosophy. ... The Committee on Social Thought, one of several PhD-granting committees at the University of Chicago, was started in 1941 by the historian John U. Nef along with economist Frank Knight, anthropologist Robert Redfield, and University President Robert Maynard Hutchins. ... The University of Chicago is a private co-educational university located in Chicago, Illinois. ... // Events and trends The 1940s were dominated by World War II, the most destructive armed conflict in history. ... This article provides extensive lists of events and significant personalities of the 1970s. ... Sussex is a traditional county in southern England, divided for administrative purposes into West Sussex and East Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove. ... York College is a further and higher education college in York, United Kingdom. ... The University of California, Davis, popularly known as UC Davis, is one of the ten University of California campuses. ... Cultural studies combines sociology, literary theory, film/video studies, and cultural anthropology to study cultural phenomena in industrial societies. ... The University of Birmingham is the oldest of three universities in the English city of Birmingham. ... Look up Culture on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikinews has news related to this article: Culture and entertainment Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Cultural Development in Antiquity Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Culture and Civilization in Modern Times Classificatory system for cultures and civilizations, by Dr. Sam Vaknin... Anthropology (from the Greek word άνθρωπος, human) consists of the study of humankind (see genus Homo). ... The University of Melbourne   The Old Quad Building, formerly Old Law The University of Melbourne, located in Melbourne, in Victoria, is the second oldest university in Australia, behind the University of Sydney, and is arguably the most prestigious [1]. It is a member of Australias Group of Eight lobby... The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC or UC Santa Cruz) is a coeducational public university located in Santa Cruz, California, USA. It is one of the ten campuses of the University of California. ...


In modern times, generally speaking, social theory began to stress free will, individual choice, subjective reasoning, and the importance of unpredictable events in place of the classic determinism – thus social theory become much more complex. Rational Choice Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory are two examples. Most modern sociologists deem there are no great unifying 'laws of history', but rather smaller, more specific, and more complex laws that govern society. Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. ... Rational choice theory is a way of looking at deliberations between a number of potential courses of action, in which rationality of one form or another is used either to decide which course of action would be the best to take, or to predict which course of action actually will...


Post-Modern Social Theory

See also

Please note the difference between structural functionalism, which was developed by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard, and structuralism, a theoretical concept other (generally later) anthropologists like Claude Lévi-Strauss and Edmund Leach. ... Interactionism is a generic sociological perspective that brings under its umbrella a number of subperspectives: phenomenology ethnomethodology Symbolic interactionism (social psychology) Interactionism is an American sociological current that analyzes the social interaction. ... Postmodernism is a term applied to a wide-ranging set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture, which are generally characterized as either emerging from, in reaction to, or superseding, modernism. ...

External links


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Alexander Street Press | Social Theory (541 words)
Social Theory is a new undertaking to provide comprehensive coverage of major social thinkers together with seminal texts from lesser figures.
Social Theory brings to light, in a cohesive and easily citable form, materials that have been inaccessible previously.
Social Theory is available on the Web either by annual subscription or through a one-time purchase of perpetual rights.
DEVELOPMENT THEORY (3667 words)
modernization theory is interested in elaborating the differences between traditional and modern societies in terms of their positions on various indices of modernity or development, and to the extent to which they approximate the model of modern industrial society.
Social theorists, not least those with Marxian leanings, are very critical of approaches to theory which do not include consideration of who decides, who benefits, and who loses as a result of action based on different theories.
Land-use planning is based on the normative theory that the future development of land uses and their associated activities should be in accordance with a plan which has regard to environmental, physical, social, and economic considerations.
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