The tripartite structure of social science analysis

Sociological Theory 22 (3):401-431 (2004)
Abstract
The goal of sociology, and all social science, is to produce reliable knowledge about human behavioral and social phenomena. To reach that goal, we undertake three kinds of activities: theoretical work, empirical work, and, even more basic, we develop frameworks that assemble the fundamental questions together with the fundamental tools that will be used to address them. This article examines the three sets of activities and their interrelations. Both deductive and nondeductive theory are highlighted, as are three kinds of empirical work-testing the predictions of deductive theories, testing the propositions produced by nondeductive theories, and extratheoretical measurement and estimation. Illustrations are drawn from the fields of status, justice, and migration
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