Chapter

Shaping Sociological Imagination: The Importance of Theory

Piotr Sztompka

in Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520241367
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937857 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520241367.003.0016
Shaping Sociological Imagination: The Importance of Theory

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This chapter argues why explanatory theory should remain in the forefront of sociological teaching and not be put aside by other modes of theorizing. Inspired by Smelser's commitment to theorizing as sociological vocation, this chapter embraces the notion that theory provides the sociological apprentice with the “language” and “vision” required to engage in any kind of empirical work. It also crystallizes the different modes of theorizing in which Smelser has so fruitfully engaged. Topics discussed in this chapter include: sociological imagination, sociological theory, explanatory theory, heuristic theory, and exegetic theory.

Keywords: sociological teaching; theorizing; theory; sociological imagination; sociological theory; explanatory theory; heuristic theory; exegetic theory

Chapter.  5883 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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