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The Analytical Turn In Sociology

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Chapter Summary

In his highly readable book, Dreams of a Final Theory (1993), the Nobel laureate in physics, Steven Weinberg, discusses the role philosophy has played in the development of physics. When a complex process is decomposed into its constituent components, the type of problem being analyzed will obviously dictate which entities and activities are considered important. In most sociological inquiries, however, the core entities tend to be actors, and the core activities tend to be the actions of these actors. The purpose of theorizing should always be to clarify matters, to make the complex and seemingly obscure clear and understandable. But if the theory itself lacks clarity, this goal cannot be attained. Sociology focuses on complex and difficult subject matters and, if the discipline is to be a rigorous science of the social, formal analytical tools is simply a necessity.

Keywords: analytical philosophy; sociological theorizing; Steven Weinberg

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