As straightforward as its title, How to Build Social Science Theories sidesteps the well-traveled road of theoretical examination by demonstrating how new theories originate and how they are elaborated. Essential reading for students of social science research, this book traces theories from their most rudimentary building blocks (terminology and definitions) through multivariable theoretical statements, models, the role of creativity in theory building, and how theories are used and evaluated. Authors Pamela J. Shoemaker, James William Tankard, Jr., and Dominic L. Lasorsa intend to improve research in many areas of the social sciences by making research more theory-based and theory-oriented. The book begins with a discussion of concepts and their theoretical and operational definitions. It then proceeds to theoretical statements, including hypotheses, assumptions, and propositions.  Theoretical statements need theoretical linkages and operational linkages; this discussion begins with bivariate relationships, as well as three-variable, four-variable, and further multivariate relationships.  The authors also devote chapters to the creative component of theory-building and how to evaluate theories.

Introduction: The Nature of Science

Introduction: The nature of science

The primary goal of this book is to demonstrate how to build theory in the social sciences. Specifically, it deals with science, social science, social science theory, and social science theory building.


When we say that this book deals with science, we greatly constrain what it is about. Although we often focus on what we know, this book is not so much about what science has taught us as about how to do science. As such, it deals not so much with what we know as with how we know. The word science is based on the Latin verb scire, which means “to know.” It comes from the present participle of that verb, sciens, and thus literally ...

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