Sociological Theory:
Old Problems, New Challenges


Deviatko I.F.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Full Prof., National Research University Higher School of Economics; Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia deviatko@gmail.com

DOI: 10.31857/S013216250016657-5
ID of the Article:


For citation:

Deviatko I.F. Sociological Theory: Old Problems, New Challenges. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2021. No 10. P. 3-11




Abstract

The article provides a brief overview and critical analysis of the difficulties and challenges facing theoretical sociology considered in the context of the current discussion of the “crisis of sociological theory”. Both “internal” and “external” problems and challenges, the latter being related to the social context and internal organization of the social sciences, are considered. In particular, among the “internal” factors of the current crisis in relation to sociology, the author states the relative shortage of robust observable phenomena constraining competing theoretical interpretations, the insufficient attention of sociologists to conceptualization and empirical validation of methods for measuring theoretical constructs, as well as the specific difficulties of causal inference in the sciences that include causal relationships between subjective (mental) variables. Among the “external” factors of the social context, some aspects of the transformation of the role of academic knowledge about society in the era of “knowing capitalism”, as well as political and ideological influences on theoretical discourse are examined.


Keywords
crisis of sociological theory; internal and external factors; conceptualization and measurement; validity; causal inference; “knowing capitalism”; political-ideological influences

References

Быков А.В. Социология морали и эволюционная теория: история и перспективы взаимодействия // Социологические исследования. 2017. № 1. С. 127–136. [Bykov A.V. (2017) Sociology of Morality and Evolutionary Theory: History and Perspectives. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 1: 127–136. (In Russ.)]

Бэр П. Социология остановлена // Социологические исследования. 2020. № 9. С. 3–15. [Baehr W.P. (2020) The Arrest of Sociology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 9: 3–15. (In Russ.)] DOI: 10.31857/S013216250010090-2.

Глобализация и социальные институты: социологический подход / Под редакцией И.Ф. Девятко, В.Н. Фоминой. М.: Наука, 2010. [Deviatko I.F., Fomina V.N. (eds) (2010) Globalization and Social Institutions: A Sociological Approach. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)]

Давыдов Ю.Н. Исторический горизонт теоретической социологии // Новое и старое в теоретической социологии. Кн. 3 / Под ред. Ю.Н. Давыдова. М.: ИС РАН, 2003. С. 7–48. [Davydov Yu.N. (2003) The Historical Horizon of Theoretical Sociology. In: Davydov Yu.N. (ed.) The New and the Old in Theoretical Sociology. Book 3. Moscow: IS RAN: 7–48. (In Russ.)]

Девятко И.Ф. Диагностическая процедура в социологии: очерк истории и теории. М.: Наука, 1993. [Deviatko I.F. (1993). The Diagnostic Procedure in Sociology: Essay on History and Theory. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)]

Девятко И.Ф. Новые данные, новая статистика: от кризиса воспроизводимости к новым требованиям к анализу и представлению данных в социальных науках // Социологические исследования. 2018. № 12. С. 30–38. [Deviatko I.F. (2018) New Data, New Statistics: From Reproducibility Crisis toward New Requirements to Data Analysis and Presentation in Social Sciences. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 12: 30–38. (In Russ.)] DOI: 10.31857/S013216250003163-2.

Пинкер С. Чистый лист. Природа человека: Кто и почему отказывается признавать ее сегодня. М.: Альпина Нон-фикшн, 2018. [Pinker S. (2018) The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Moscow: Alpina Non-Fiction. (In Russ.)]

Романовский Н.В. Дискурс кризиса (в) современной социологии // Социологические исследования. 2016. № 4. С. 3–12. [Romanovskiy N.V. (2016) Discourse of Crisis of(in) Contemporary Sociology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. No. 4: 3–12. (In Russ.)]

Хубер Ш., Хубер О. Шкала центральности религиозности (CRS) / Пер. с англ. Е.В. Пруцковой, К.В. Маркина // Социология: методология, методы, математическое моделирование. 2018. № 47. С. 144–171. [Huber S., Huber O.W. (2018) The Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS) (Transl. from Eng. by E.V. Prutskova). Sotsiologiya: metodologiya, metody, matematicheskoe modelirovanie [Sociology: Methodology, Methods, Mathematical Modeling]. No. 47: 144–171. (In Russ.)]

Abrutyn S. (2016) Introduction. In: Abrutyn S. (ed.) Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory. Cham: Springer: 1–19.

Alexander J., Colomy P. (1992) Traditions and Competitions: Preface to a Postpositivist Approach to Knowledge Cumulation. In: Ritzer G. (ed.) Metatheorizing. London, etc.: Sage: 27–52.

Baumeister R.F., Bratslavsky E., Muraven M., Tice D.M. (1998) Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 74. No. 5: 1252–1265. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.74.5.1252.

Blalock H.M. (1982) Conceptualization and Measurement in the Social Sciences. Beverly Hills: Sage.

Bollen K., Lennox R. (1991) Conventional Wisdom on Measurement: A Structural Equation Perspective. Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 110. No. 2: 305–314. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.110.2.305.

Cook T.D., Campbell D.T. (1979) Quasi-experimentation: Design and Analysis Issues for Field Settings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Cronbach L.J., Meehl P.E. (1955) Construct Validity in Psychological Tests. Psychological Bulletin. Vol. 52. No. 4: 281–302.

Curry O.S., Mullins D.A., Whitehouse H. (2019) Is It Good to Cooperate? Testing the Theory of Moralityas-Cooperation in 60 Societies. Current Anthropology. Vol. 60. No. 1: 47–69. DOI: 10.1086/701478.

Eronen M.I. (2020) Causal Discovery and the Problem of Psychological Interventions. New Ideas in Psychology. Vol. 59. Article no. 100785. DOI: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2020.100785.

Eronen M.I., Bringmann L.F. (2021) The Theory Crisis in Psychology: How to Move Forward. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Vol. 16. No. 4: 779–788. DOI: 10.1177/1745691620970586.

Fayers P.M., Hand D.J. (2002) Causal Variables, Indicator Variables and Measurement Scales: An Example from Quality of Life. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society). Vol. 165. No. 2: 233–253. DOI: 10.1111/1467-985X.02020.

Fiedler K., Messner C., Bluemke M. (2006) Unresolved Problems with the “I”, the “A”, and the “T”: A Logical and Psychometric Critique of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). European Review of Social Psychology. Vol. 17. No. 1: 74-147. DOI: 10.1080/10463280600681248.

Flake J.K., Pek J., Hehman E. (2017) Construct Validation in Social and Personality Research: Current Practice and Recommendations. Social Psychological and Personality Science. Vol. 8. No. 4: 370–378. DOI: 10.1177/1948550617693063.

Freese J., Peterson D. (2017) Replication in Social Science. Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 43: 147–165. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-soc-060116-053450.

Gouldner A.W. (1970) The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. New York: Basic Books.

Hagger M.S., Chatzisarantis N.L., Alberts H., Anggono C.O. et al. (2016) A Multilab Preregistered Replication of the Ego-depletion Effect. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Vol. 11. No. 4: 546–573. DOI: 10.1177/1745691616652873.

Hammerl M. (2018) Crisis in Sociology. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Cham: Springer: 19. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2896-1.

Ignatow G. (2020) Sociological Theory in the Digital Age. London: Routledge.

Liao T.F., Deviatko I.F. (2015) Causal Analysis, History of. In: International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition). Elsevier: 247–250.

Lopreato J., Crippen T. (1999) Crisis in Sociology: The Need for Darwin. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Meehl P.E. (1990) Why Summaries of Research on Psychological Theories are often Uninterpretable. Psychological Reports. Vol. 66. No. 1: 195–244. DOI: 10.2466/pr0.1990.66.1.195.

Morgan S.L., Winship C. (2007) Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Munafò M.R., Nosek B.A., Bishop D.V.M., Button K.S., Chambers C.D., Percie Du Sert N., Simonsohn U., Wagenmakers E.J., Ware J.J., Ioannidis J.P.A. (2017) A Manifesto for Reproducible Science. Nature Human Behaviour. Vol. 1. No. 1(0021). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-016-0021.

Oberauer K., Lewandowsky S. (2019) Addressing the Theory Crisis in Psychology. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Vol. 26. No. 5: 1596–1618. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-019-01645-2.

Pearl J. (2009) Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Samuelsson K. (1961) Religion and Economic Action. New York: Basic Books.

Shapin S. (1992) Discipline and Bounding: The History and Sociology of Science as Seen through the Externalism-Internalism Debate. History of Science. Vol. 30. No. 4: 333–369. DOI: 10.1177/007327539203000401.

Sherman J.W., Rivers A.M. (2021) There’s Nothing Social about Social Priming: Derailing the “Train Wreck”. Psychological Inquiry. Vol. 32. No. 1: 1–11. DOI: 10.1080/1047840X.2021.1889312.

Thrift N. (2005) Knowing Capitalism. London, etc.: Sage Publications.

Turner J. (2005) Is Public Sociology Such a Good Idea? The American Sociologist. Vol. 36. No. 3/4: 27–45. DOI: 10.1007/s12108-005-1015-z.

Turner J.H. (2000) On the Origins of Human Emotions: A Sociological Inquiry into the Evolution of Human Emotions. California: Stanford Univ. Press.

Zafirovski M. (2019) A Neglected Gap in the Weber Thesis? The Long Economic Lag of Capitalism from Protestantism. Social Science Information. Vol. 58. No. 1: 3–56. DOI: 10.1177/0539018419838492.

Content No 10, 2021