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A Treatise on Social Theory

A Treatise on Social Theory

Volume 1


  • Date Published: March 1983
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521272513

£ 37.99

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About the Authors
  • In this first volume of a projected trilogy, the author argues that a methodology adequate to solve the long-standing debate over the status of the social as against the natural sciences can be constructed in terms of a fourhold distinction between the reportage, explanation, description and evaluation of human behaviour. The distinction rests on an analysis of the scope and nature of social theory which is not only original in conception but far-reaching in its implications for the assessment of the results of sociological, anthropological and historical research. In this volume, there are set out the separate and distinctive criteria by which the reports, explanations, descriptions and evaluations put forward by social scientists of rival theoretical schools require to be tested. These criteria will then be applied in Volume II to a substantive theory of social relations, social structure and social evolution, and in Volume III to a detailed analysis of the society of twentieth-century England. Each of the three volumes can be read independently of the others. Thus the trilogy will, when completed, be seen to form a coherent and unified whole.

    • Completes the trilogy, applying original social theory to concrete case of twentieth-century English society
    • Volumes I and II widely praised as 'remarkable', 'magisterial' and 'a bravura performance'
    • Well known and highly respected author, Runciman known not only for social theory but also for leading the Commission on Social Justice, and chairing The Royal Commission on Criminal Justice
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1983
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521272513
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.556kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction: The Nature of Social Theory:
    1. Social theory as science
    2. The concept of understanding
    3. Analysis of actions
    4. Two kinds of value-judgement
    5. The problem of reflexivity
    6. Conclusion
    Part II. Reportage in Social Theory:
    7. The practice of primary understanding
    8. The choice of terms
    9. The bounds of reportage
    10. Sub-types and variants
    11. Definition and classification
    12. Inference within reportage
    13. Conclusion
    Part III. Explanation in Social Theory:
    14. Theory-making and secondary understanding
    15. The grounding of hypotheses
    16. Interpreting weak but adequate theories
    17. Varieties of causes
    18. Goals, functions and evolution
    19. Conclusion
    Part IV. Description in Social Theory:
    20. Tertiary understanding
    21. Authenticity and its opposites
    22. Putting descriptions across
    23. The uses of analogy and detail
    24. Conceptualization and narration
    25. The relation of description to evaluation
    26. How good can descriptions hope to be? 27. Conclusion
    Part V. Evaluation in Social Theory:
    28. The inescapability of evaluation
    29. Benevolence as a presupposition
    30. forms of misevaluation
    31. Appealing to the 'facts'
    32. Evaluation without pre-emption
    33. Theory-neutral uses of evaluative terms
    34. Conclusion

  • Author

    W. G. Runciman

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