In today’s workshop the group explored the meaning and relevance of ‘theory’.

theoryWe drew on work by Neuman (2006, ch.3) to explore the parts of social theory, viz: assumptions, concepts, relationships and units of analysis. We identified that theoretical concepts:

  • are”ideas we can express as a symbol or in words“;
  • vary according to their level of abstraction;
  • vary as to scope, some being “very narrow and applying only to specific settings or … [being] restricted in time or place“;
  • can be single but usually “form interconnected groups or concept clusters“;

We also talked at some length about how concepts can be assembled into theoretical frameworks (see figure below) that allow us to give meaning to and explain the ideas in a research study.


Source: Neuman, p.70

NEUMAN, W. L. 2006. Social research methods : qualitative and quantitative approaches, Boston, Mass. ; London, Pearson, Allyn and Bacon.