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On Theory

October 1, 2012

Carol Mutch explains that:

“As LeCompte and Preissle explain (1993, p.120): ‘Theories are created by developing a set of propositions, postulates or generalisations which establish relationships between things in some way.’

Neuman (1994, p.38) lists the key aspects of a social theory as follows. A social theory:

– contains a set of assumptions as a starting point;

– explains what the social world is like and how and why it changes;

– offers a system of concepts/ideas;

– specifies relationships amongst concepts (tells us what causes what); and

– provides an interconnected set of ideas.”

She also quotes Le Compte & Preissle (1993, p.118) as saying: “Theories are statements about how things are connected. Their purpose is to explain why things happen as they do. Theories vary in size, density, abstractness, completeness and quality.”

Ref: 56 (emphases in bold blue, mine) Carol Mutch (2005) Doing Educational Research: A Practitioner’s Guide to Getting StartedNZCER Press: Wellington

Referring to: LeCompte, M. & Preissle, J. (1993) Ethnography and qualitative design in educational research (2nd ed.) San Diego, CA: Academic Press

Neuman, W.L. (1994). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


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