The subsequent crisis in this model corresponds to two lines of questioning. Whether that work is ethnographic or statistical, it involves invisible operations that do not generally appear in social science texts.
This is an open access article under the CC BY license http: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Theory synthesis is not a new idea, however, having been debated by sociologists for several decades.
We consider the various methodological approaches to theory synthesis and test the feasibility of one such approach by synthesising a small number of sociological theories relevant to health related risk-taking.
The synthesis consisted of three stages: Our synthesis suggests that serious and sustained risk-taking is associated with social isolation, liminality and a person's position in relation to the dominant social group. We reflect upon the methodological and philosophical issues raised by the practice of theory synthesis, concluding that it has the potential to reinvigorate theory and make it more robust and accessible for practical application.
Introduction There is a growing interest in the synthesis of theory. Although academics have always brought together different theories to generate greater theoretical insights e. For those interested in the application of theory then, theory synthesis offers the possibility of collating, evaluating and combining theories for practical use.
Ritzer notes that a systematic approach allows a deeper comprehension of theories as well as the possibility of evaluating, critically analysing and improving them.
He suggests that metatheorizing would benefit sociology by generating new theories, better understood theories, and overarching perspectives.
Confusingly, however, Ritzer outlines a very wide-ranging approach to metatheoretical activity, including within its purview three different tasks: First, metatheorizing to attain a deeper understanding of theory, which he refers to as Mu.
This is the identification of major cognitive paradigms within sociology and the study of theories, theorists, communities of theorists and the larger intellectual and social contexts of theories. Second, metatheorizing as a prelude to theory development Mpwhich entails the study of existing theory to produce new sociological theory.
Third, Mo, which is the practice of studying theory in order to produce a metatheory that overarches some part or all of sociological theory. He notes that his own approach to synthesising theory comes closest to Ritzer's Mp, and argues that the focus should be on the theories themselves rather than on theorists or paradigms Turner,Turner, For Turner, theory synthesis involves pulling together existing theories and extracting and synthesising key aspects to produce robust theory that has relevance to the world outside sociology.
He notes however, that his emphasis on the theories themselves rather than their intellectual context, often provokes accusations of naivety and lack of sophistication. Turner's insistence on focussing on the theories derives from a frustration with sociology and his sense that sociologists are more concerned with abstract, epistemological critiques than with developing coherent and useful explanations of social forces.
As a result, he suggests, and because of a failure to synthesise knowledge and theory, sociology is ignored by policy makers Turner, He argues that theory synthesis is the key to developing robust theories of practical relevance.
The idea of metatheory has also been adopted in the field of nursing, where it is interpreted in various different ways. On the other hand, Whittemore and Royfinding the 'adaptation to chronic illness model' unable to encompass all aspects of the experience of diabetes mellitus, identify several concepts in the diabetes literature with potential to enhance the model and then combine these concepts with the 'adaptation to chronic illness model' to produce a new model.
They describe their methodology — the expansion of a model to include additional concepts — as theory synthesis. Yet another interpretation is provided by Walker and Avantwho consider theory synthesis to be the pulling together of theoretically unconnected pieces of information to construct a theory.
Clearly the terms theory synthesis and metatheory have great potential to confuse. The practice of theory synthesis has been challenged on philosophical grounds. In a debate was published on the feasibility of synthesis in the field of international relations.
Smith rejected what he regarded as the implicit positivist assumption of a call for synthesis, i. Moravcsikhowever, rejected pluralism favoured by other contributors to the debate on the grounds that it suggested all theories are equally valid Hellmann observed that synthesis simply means to form a whole by putting parts together.
We agree with his conclusion: Similarly sociologist Roger Sibeon observes that postmodernists tend to be opposed to theoretical synthesis, misunderstanding it as an attempt to stifle diversity and close theoretical debate.
He counters that it is possible to accept theoretical pluralism at the same time as encouraging a cumulative approach to the development of sociological theory. Furthermore, he suggests that the synthesis of useful elements of theories is desirable not only within, but also across disciplines, and even across schools of thought that seem opposed.
We report here on the process of synthesising a small number of sociological theories of risk-taking. We have considered all the approaches outlined above but have chosen to follow Turner's methodology because it focuses squarely on the theories themselves.
To our knowledge his methodology remains untested outside of his own use. Our aim then, is to explore the feasibility of achieving a meaningful theory synthesis using Turner's methodology and to reflect on the practical, methodological and philosophical issues it raises.
Our field of interest was adolescent risk-taking and we searched for sociological theories with potential to throw light on this phenomenon.
For that study we began by hand-searching all the abstracts of all volumes of the journals Sociology of Health and Illness Volume 1, —May and Social Science and Medicine Volume 1, —mid-June We reasoned that we would be more likely to find sociological theories in these journals than in generic journals of risk.
By searching within only two journals we undoubtedly missed some relevant publications and our focus on risk-taking may have diverted us from wider health-related activity.eBook List9 - Ebook download as Excel Spreadsheet .xls), PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online.
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