Theorizing theory: Invitation to a broader conversation about ‘theory’ in sociology
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataVis full innførsel
'Theory’ is a seminal term in sociology. Sociologists tend to ask that articles, chapters and monographs are ‘theoretical’, ‘develop theory’ or ‘make a theoretical contribution’. Yet, as demonstrated in Gabriel Abend’s 2008 article ‘The Mean- ing of ‘Theory’, it is generally unclear what sociologists mean when they talk about theory. Abend distinguishes seven different meanings sociologists tend to impute to ‘theory’ and argues that no single definition can usefully capture these substantively different meanings. Counter to Abend, we propose and defend a minimal and versatile theory of theory, which does capture the important common denom- inators in sociologists' various uses of the term theory. The major strengths of our proposal are that it enables informed and synthetic discussion and fosters reflexivity about differ- ences and similarities between different types of theory. Our minimal theory of theory thus serves as an invitation to a broader conversation about theory in sociology.