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.

Theoretical and Operational Linkages

Theoretical and operational linkages

Once hypotheses are formed, it is necessary to specify two sorts of linkages, connections among the variables in the hypothesis. There are two ways of thinking about such connections: First, we demonstrate why each hypothesis or research question ought to be true—that is, why the concepts ought to be related in the way the hypothesis says they are. This is the theoretical linkage. Second, we show how the concepts are related empirically. This is the operational linkage. Both are necessary if the theory is to be fully elaborated.

Theoretical and operational linkages are also necessary for propositions. The theoretical linkage explains why the proposition should be true, without concern about relations among concepts. The operational linkage shows the type ...

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