Metatheorizing in the sociological study of textual data

Metatheorizing in the sociological study of textual data

Trotsuk I.V.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Assoc. Prof., Sociology Chair, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia; Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia

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Trotsuk I.V. Metatheorizing in the sociological study of textual data. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 9. P. 12-21


The author aims to identify main formats of metatheorizing in sociology and its potential in the specific research area (analysis of textual (non-formalized) data) to solve the task of integrating its categorical apparatus, conceptual models and methodological decisions for empirical work. The author considers metatheorizing a necessary step for clarifying the grounds for sociological study of textual data, which is determined by the fact that interdisciplinary concepts ‘narrative’, ‘discourse’, ‘text’, etc. have become widely used in sociology, but were ‘borrowed’ from other disciplines uncritically, and, thus, became very ambiguous and intensified the debates about the criteria for choosing analytical ‘optics’, methodology and ‘rhetoric’ in empirical research. The problem of unambiguous definitions of the key concepts of textual analysis has not been solved yet, and the relationship of different versions of textual analysis (narrative, discursive, biographical, etc.) has not been clarified yet, which determines such common problems of empirical sociology as a low methodological level of publications, incomprehensibility of research procedures, etc. The author believes that metatheorizing (clarification of the categorical apparatus, integration of conceptual approaches into two models, reduction of techniques to content analysis and grouping of problems) can outline the ways to solve these problems.

metatheorizing; sociological theory; textual (non-formalized) data; discourse analysis; content analysis; narrative analysis; biographical method


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