Usable Theory: Analytic Tools for Social and Political Research

Usable Theory: Analytic Tools for Social and Political Research

by Dietrich Rueschemeyer
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
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Usable Theory: Analytic Tools for Social and Political Research

The project of twentieth-century sociology and political science-to create predictive scientific theory-resulted in few full-scale theories that can be taken off the shelf and successfully applied to empirical puzzles. Yet focused "theory frames" that formulate problems and point to relevant causal factors and conditions have produced vibrant, insightful, and analytically oriented empirical research. While theory frames alone cannot offer explanation or prediction, they guide empirical theory formation and give direction to inferences from empirical evidence. They are also responsible for much of the progress in the social sciences. In Usable Theory, distinguished sociologist Dietrich Rueschemeyer shows graduate students and researchers how to construct theory frames and use them to develop valid empirical hypotheses in the course of empirical social and political research. Combining new ideas as well as analytic tools derived from classic and recent theoretical traditions, the book enlarges the rationalist model of action by focusing on knowledge, norms, preferences, and emotions, and it discusses larger social formations that shape elementary forms of action. Throughout, Usable Theory seeks to mobilize the implicit theoretical social knowledge used in everyday life.

Offers tools for theory building in social and political research

Complements the rationalist model of action with discussions of knowledge, norms, preferences, and emotions

Relates theoretical ideas to problems of methodology

Situates elementary forms of action in relation to larger formations

Combines new ideas with themes from classic and more recent theories

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691129587
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/01/2012
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.42(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.14(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter I Analytic Tools for Social and Political Research 1

Chapter II A General Frame: Social Action 27

Chapter III Knowledge 40

Chapter IV Norms 64

Chapter V Preferences 87

Chapter VI Emotions 107

Chapter VII "The Human Group" Revisited 123

Chapter VIII Midpoint 135

Chapter IX Aggregations 152

Chapter X Collective Action 168

Chapter XI Power and Cooperation 183

Chapter XII Institutions 204

Chapter XIII Social Identities 228

Chapter XIV Macrocontexts 243

Chapter XV Cultural Explanations 265

Chapter XVI Conclusion: Usable Theory? 286

References 301

Index 325

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