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Identify the four major sociological theoretical paradigms.

Identify the four major sociological theoretical paradigms.

Identify the four major sociological theoretical paradigms.
SOC 1001 Discussion Sociological Theoretical Paradigms

This discussion is designed to help acquaint you with the
field of sociology. After you have read the reading assignment and lecture for
the week, please respond to all parts of the discussion by the due date
assigned:

Identify the four major sociological theoretical paradigms.
For each, what are the key tenets? How does each explain how society works?

Which paradigm do you relate to best? How can you use this
particular paradigm to explain your decision to attend college?

Which of the four major research methods would you use, and
how, to explore why adult students choose to return to college? What are the
benefits and flaws of the particular method you chose for your imaginary study?

Remember to also respond to the posts of at least two others
in our class by the end of the week.t. This paper presents the interpretations of sociological science fundamental
categories – conceptual and structural explanations of the sociological theory and
sociological paradigm, as well as the examples of their classification. Ritzer’s
definition of sociological theory was approved. He considers it a form of scientific
theory by which smaller or greater systems of scientific laws and hypotheses on the
society as a whole or on some societal phenomena are established through the
application of scientific research methods. Several elements may be distinguished in
the sociological theory structure – concept, variable, statement and form (J. H. Turner).
The sociological paradigm is defined as a fundamental picture of the society (concept,
structure and society dynamics) which has been more or less accepted by the
association of sociologists in certain periods of this science development. In this
respect, the author discusses old and new sociological paradigms that mutually differ
with regard to the theories, methods and instruments applied in learning about the
society in its totality. Taking into account the temporal, content-subject and validity
criteria, sociological theories are classified in two groups: a) classical sociological
theories (positivistic, mechanistic, biologist, psychologist, Marxist, formal-sociological
and cyclic theories of society) and b) modern sociological theories (behavioral
theories, functionalism, structuralism and critical societal theory).
Key words: sociological theory, sociological paradigm, classification
1. SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY CONCEPT AND ELEMENTS
Investigations in the field of sociological science history are greatly permeated by the
analyses of various sociological theories, either old (classical) or newer (modern),
conservative or progressive, “mini” or “maxi” ones. The existence of numerous social
theories demonstrates not only the development of sociology, but also the complexity and
dynamism of social phenomena and inability to establish sharp mathematical relations in a

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SOC 1001 Discussion Sociological Theoretical Paradigms
SOC 1001 Discussion Sociological Theoretical Paradigms

Received November 16, 1997
456 PETAR HAFNER
social organism research. At the same time, it helps revealing the positive fact of the
openness and developing possibilities of the sociology as a science. The variety of
thematic and methodological choices among the sociologists’ association members
concerning the sociology as a subject supports this tendency. For this reason, the
statement of Anthony Giddens (Anthony Giddens: “Social Theory and Modern
Sociology”, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1987) about
multidimensional development directions of the sociology as a science is acceptable, as
well as his assertion that during the last two decades of their development the social
sciences have been abandoning the ideal that their “aims and logic are more or less the
same as the ones in the natural sciences”1
.
The differences in theoretical and methodological approaches to social research are
also reflected in the interpretations of sociological theory as a term. The term of theory
itself does not cause any significant disagreement, being that the theory encompasses the
entirety of systematized knowledge and hypotheses by which the phenomena may be
empirically verified and predicted in the sense of their development trends, or by which
certain unsolved scientific problems can be unveiled. On the contrary, a great number of
various definitions appear in the interpretation of the term of sociological theory and its
classification and typology.
In this respect, G. Ritzer (G. Ritzer: “Contemporary Sociological Theory”, A. Knopf,
New York, USA, 1983) points out four meanings of the sociological theory: as a
systematic and chronological representation of certain ideas, as different social
taxonomies and classifications in the history of social thought, as a form of systematized
or partial research hypothesis, and as a form of scientific theory which follows logic laws
of scientific attitude establishment. We would rather accept Ritzer’s definition of the
sociological theory as a form of scientific theory which, along with the scientific research
methods application, establishes smaller or greater systems of scientific laws and
hypotheses about the society as a whole or about particular societal phenomena2
. Nicholas
C. Mullins defines sociological theories as a kind of “creations (given in any form, most
frequently a written one), the aim of which is to analyze and generalize mutual relations
among people through the application of certain number of general standpoints and/or
variables whose interrelations are determined by specific theory laws”3
. Mullins’
definition of sociological theory refers to the need of recognizing basic structural
elements of a sociological theory. In addition to this, a sociological theory requires the
observation of principles and laws existing in the standard fund of sociological science
and science in general, as well as the usage of specific scientific knowledge about the
phenomenon related to the theory itself.

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