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Theory construction is the process of developing theories in accord with criteria for their production and analysis. A number of texts offer methods for constructing sociological theories; however, at the present time, the field of sociology has no widely agreed-upon set of criteria for building and evaluating theories.

This entry presents criteria for theory construction and theory analysis that are consistent with some of the sociological prescriptions and, more important, with criteria that are widely accepted in other sciences. Before doing so, it is first necessary to discuss briefly some broader issues.

The Context of Theories

Theories are repositories of general knowledge. Through testing and refinement, scientific theories change over time in ways that lead them to provide increasingly accurate explanations for ever-widening ranges of phenomena. Their accumulated ...

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