‘Theory Construction’ explores the nature of theorising in the social sciences. It focuses on some of the main building blocks in social inquiry, such as concepts, research questions, and causal explanations. The emphasis throughout the course is not on theories themselves, but on creative and disciplined theorising as a practical skill. Through lectures, working seminars and individual assignments, you are encouraged to reflect on social scientific approaches to reality and different choices entailed in research design.
The first part of the course introduces essential aspects of theorising, such as thinking sociologically, the specificity of social-scientific inquiries and the application of creative heuristics.
The second part treats essential aspects of the research process, such as developing research questions, a research design, conceptualisation, operationalisation & measurement both in (post-)positivist and interpretive approaches. It also discusses how social scientists deal with causation and explanation.
In the third part of the course, we treat some typical recurring problems in sociological research: (1) Varying levels of sociological analysis (micro, meso & macro) and (2) Problems of comparative research.