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.
A theoretical model is a tool that can promote theory construction. In this chapter, we discuss what a model is and how it can be used to improve theory, including how to represent theories in model form and how to derive theoretical statements from models. Along the way, we look at different types of models, how to evaluate models, and future directions in model building, all in an effort to show how models can be a major implement in the theory builder's toolkit. We will use a variety of models of the communication process to help illustrate our points, which apply equally well to model building throughout the social sciences.
What a Model is
Referring to the use of the word model in the ...