What is Theory?

Answers from the social and cultural sciences

Edited by: Herve Corvellec

There is no consensus in the social and cultural sciences on what theory is, and that is as it should be. A consensus would be outright dangerous for the diversity of intellectual life. The perspectives represented in this volume show that theory can be understood as plot, hope, beholding, doxa, heritage, a stalemate, disappointment, personal matter, or family concept. But, even if theory can be defined in many ways, it cannot be defined in any one way. Beyond disciplinary and epistemological differences, theory has the steadfast characteristic of being what academics work with. More than an epistemological matter, the book's title question is an entry into the dynamics of academic practice. The book consists of a multidisciplinary collection of essays that are tied together by a common effort to tell what theory is. These essays are also paired as dialogues between senior and junior researchers from the same, or allied, disciplines to add a trans-generational dimension to the book's multidisciplinary approach. What Is Theory? has been designed for upper division and graduate students in the social sciences and the humanities, but it will also be of interest to anyone who has felt that the question of what theory is can be more easily asked than answered. Contents include: Why Ask What Theory Is? * The History of the Concept of Theory * History of Ideas at the End of Western Dominance * Looking at Theory in Theory in Science * Theory Has No Big Others in Science and Technology Studies * What Social Science Theory Is and What It Is Not * Theory as Hope * Theory Crisis and the Necessity of Theory - The Dilemmas of Sociology * Theory as Disappointment * Theory - A Personal Matter * Theory - A Professional Matter * Economic Theory - A Critical Realist Perspective * For Theoretical Pluralism in Economic Theory * What Is Theory in Political Science? * For a New Vocabulary of Theory in Political Science * Theorizing the Earth * Spatial Theory as an Interdisciplinary Praxis. *** "This highly original, lively and refreshing book is more than welcome: it is needed....the contributors' insights, passion and diversity fully restore the creative value of theorizing as a way to grasp, understand and more importantly shape the world." - Franck Cochoy, Professor of Sociology, U. of Toulouse


334 pages

Publication Date: 6/10/2013
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9788763002509