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.
Chapter 9: Using and Evaluating Theory
Using and Evaluating Theory
Theory building is an ongoing process. It doesn't come to an end. A theory may reach the point where it is useful and can be applied to solving problems. But it is still subject to revision as further testing takes place.
Perhaps we should think of theories as moving through stages—young, middle-aged, and mature. The mature theories are the ones that have been around awhile, that are more extensive in the development of concepts and hypotheses, that have been most extensively tested, and that are possibly being applied to solve the problems from which they originated.
This chapter begins with a discussion of the weaknesses of atheoretical research and a reiteration of a basic theme of the book, the importance ...