Metatheorizing or philosophy of social sciences?

Metatheorizing or philosophy of social sciences?

Deviatko I.F.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Full Professor, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article: 6968

For citation:

Deviatko I.F. Metatheorizing or philosophy of social sciences?. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 12. P. 3-9


The interdisciplinary origins of the sociological metatheorizing and reasons for a surge in its popularity in 1970s –1990s are discussed in order to describe the passage to a current state of metatheory in sociology. The relationships of different types of meta-theoretical investigations with substantive unit theories as well as with an adjacent field of philosophy of social sciences are exemplified using some “hard problems” relating to sociological theories of actions and normativity. The current state of this problem in sociology is described in the article as a movement from the once initial state of striving for conceptual codification and standardization of the complex of sociological theories to their deconstruction and decentration – and back. The author believes this phenomenon may equally be subject of interest for theoretical sociology and philosophy of social sciences.

мetatheory; object language and meta-language; philosophy of social sciences; postmodernism; theories of action; normativity


Александер Дж. Общая теория в состоянии постпозитивизма: «эпистемологическая дилемма» и поиск присутствующего разума // Социология: 4 М. 2004. № 18. С. 167–204. № 19. С. 176–200. [Alexander J.C. (2004) General Theory in the Postpositivist Mode: The Epistemological Dilemma and the Search for Present Reason. Sotsiologiya: 4M [Sociology: methodology, methods, mathematical modeling (Sociology: 4M)]. Issues 18, 19: 167–204, 176–200. (In Russ.)]

Гирц К. С точки зрения туземца: о природе понимания в культурной антропологии // Девятко И.Ф. Модели объяснения и логика социологического исследования. М.: Институт социологии РАН, 1996. С. 89–108. [Geertz C. (1996) From the Native’s Point of View: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding. In: Deviatko I.F. (1996) Models of Explanation and the Logic of Sociological Research. Moscow: Institute of Sociology RAS: 89–108. (In Russ.)]

Девятко И.Ф. Модели объяснения и логика социологического исследования. М.: Институт социологии РАН, 1996. [Deviatko I.F. (1996) Models of Explanation and the Logic of Sociological Research. Moscow: Institute of Sociology RAS (In Russ.)]

Девятко И.Ф. Социологические теории деятельности и практической рациональности. М.: «Аванти плюс», 2003. [Deviatko I.F. (2003) Sociological Theories of Agency and Practical Rationality. Moscow: Avanti Plus. (In Russ.)]

Девятко И.Ф. Понятие «нормы» в социологической теории: от классических оснований к новым интерпретациям природы норм и множественности нормативных систем // Нормы и мораль в социологической теории: от классических интерпретаций к новым идеям / Под ред. И.Ф. Девятко, Р.Н. Абрамова, И.В. Катерного, Ин-т социологии РАН. М.: Весь мир, 2017 (в печати). [Deviatko I.F. (2017) Social Norms: From Attempts of Definition towards New Interpretations of Sources of Normative Value and Plurality of Normative Systems. In: Norms and Morals in Sociological Theory: from Classical Interpretations to New Ideas. Ed. by I.F. Deviatko, R.N. Abramov, I.V. Katerny. Мoscow, Ves’ mir. In print. (In Russ.)].

Кун Т. Структура научных революций / Пер. с англ. И.З. Налетова. Общая ред. С.Р. Микулинского и Л.А. Марковой. Москва: Прогресс, 1977. [Kuhn T. (1977) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd ed. Transl. from Eng. by I.Z. Naletov. Moscow: Progress. (In Russ.)].

Сёрл Дж. Рациональность в действии. М.: Прогреcс-Традиция, 2004. [Searle J.A. (2004) Rationality in Action. Moscow: Progress-Tradition. (In Russ.)]

Чудова И.А. Постмодернизм и социологическая теория. Социологические исследования. 2015. № 5. С. 33–41. [Chudova I. (2015) Postmodernism and Sociological Theory. Sociologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological studies]. No. 5: 33–41. (In Russ.)]

Alexander J. (1982–1984) Theoretical Logic in Sociology. 4 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982–1984.

Besbris M., Khan S. (2017) Less Theory. More Description. Sociological Theory. Vol. 35 (2): 147–153.

Effrat A. (1972) Power to the Paradigms. Sociological Inquiry. 1972. Vol. 42: 3–33.

Fine G.A., Corte U. (2017) Group Pleasures: Collaborative Commitments, Shared Narrative, and the Sociology of Fun. Sociological Theory. Vol. 35(1): 64–86.

Friedrichs R.W. (1970) A Sociology of Sociology. New York: Free Press.

Matthewman S., Hoey D. (2006) What Happened to Postmodernism? Vol 40. Issue 3: 529–547.

Lukes S. (2008) Moral Relativism. London: Profile Books.

Martin J.L. (2011) The Explanation of Social Action. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Press.

Metatheorizing. (1992) Ed. by G. Ritzer. Newbury Park et al.

Metatheory in Social Science: Pluralisms and Subjectivities (1986) Ed. by D.W. Fiske, R.A. Shweder. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ritzer G. (1975) Sociology: A Multiple Paradigm Science. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ritzer G. (2007) Metatheory. In: The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ed. by G. Ritzer. Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA et al.: 2964–2967.

Skocpol T. (1986) The Dead End of Metatheory. Contemporary Sociology. Vol. 16: 10–12.

Turner J. (1985) The Defence of Positivism. Sociological Theory. Vol. 3: 24–30.

Turner S.P. (2010) Explaining the Normative. Oxford: Polity Press.

Turner S. (2014) American Sociology: From Pre-Disciplinary to Post-Normal. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wagner D.G., Berger J. (1985) Do Sociological Theories Grow? American Journal of Sociology. No. 90(4): 697–728.

Zach R. (2006) Hilbert’s Program Then and Now. Philosophy of Logic. No. 5: 411–447.

Zammito J.H. (2004) A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour. University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London.

Content No 12, 2017