Middle Range Theories: Definition, Introduction, Features and MCQ

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  • What is a theory?
  • A theory comprises a set of assumptions from which empirical generalizations have themselves been derived.

Definition

Theories that lie between minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance during day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that will explain all the observed uniformities of social behavior, social organization, and social change.

Introduction

  • To integrate theory and empirical research
  • In contrast to the classical Grand theories like functionalism
  • Rejected mega theory
  • He argued, sociological theories cannot be limited to – jargons, intellectual speculation or only logical
  • Sociological theories should arrange empirical facts in a consolidated and systematic manner
  • Issues relating to empirical situations and actual problems should be probed into
  • This helps in studying every dimension which mega theories cannot
  • Helps to know social reality
  • E. g. , Deviance, corruptions, ethnic conflict
  • Merton rejected the use of natural sciences in study of sociology
  • As cumulative research and static phenomena are not subject matter of sociology
  • Social study changes with time and space like study about democracy, capitalism, etc.
  • Thus, social sciences should not be compared with natural sciences

Features

  • To guide empirical inquiry
  • To generate theories of social system
  • Involves abstraction
  • Deals with delimited aspects of social phenomena
  • E. g. , Theory of reference group, relative deprivation, role-conflict, etc.
  • Theories which are too remote for classes and those too detailed with orderly descriptions of particulars that are not generalized

Why Middle Range Theories?

  • More importance to facts
  • Facts speak for themselves

These theories are:

  • Small
  • Understandable
  • Capacity to explain different types of situations without any ambiguities

MCQ

Q. 1. Who said, “Sociology must have to go for middle range theories than striving for scientific status extending natural science theories into the field of sociological research.” ?

i. Merton

ii. Parsons

iii. Weber

iv. None of the above

Answer: i. Merton

Q. 2. For Merton,

Statement 1: Sociology is encountering with the problem of identification of the issues for conducting research that needs to be resolved.

Statement 2: Hence sociology must have to reject mega theoretical constructs replacing them by middle range theories.

Find the correct answer from codes given below:

i. Statement 1 is true

ii. Statement 2 is true

iii. Both are true

iv. Both are false

Answer: iii. Both are true

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