The relationship between theory and paradigm

The relationship between theory and paradigm


In simple words theory refers to the explanation of general principles of an art or science which is constructed with practice. It is true that on the basis of practice we derive certain rules and at times we are able to separate these rules from whatever we have seen in practice. The relationship between theory and paradigm Thus we begin to differentiate between theory and practice. Theory is generally helpful in explaining practice, theory refers to the much higher level of abstraction whereas practice to the empirical situation. If we look at the relationship between theory and practice then broadly speaking there emerge two possibilities like: (i) theory and practice might be seen as quite distinct from each other and (ii) theory and practice might be conceived as complementary to each other.

According to the first point of view it seems necessary to make a distinction between theory and practice. The relationship between theory and paradigm Thus we come across the statements like it is a very good idea in theory but in practice it just might not work. According to this point of view theory and practice are two quite different things. According to the second point of view it appears that theory and practice are not two different things but can help in understanding each other.


Broadly speaking, the discussion on the nature, meaning and types of sociological theories could be divided into five parts. In the first part we shall try to understand the nature and meaning of the sociological theories during its classical age or period. The relationship between theory and paradigm Considerable amount of work was done by the pioneers of sociology during this period to establish the credentials of the discipline. Sociology could well emerge as a separate discipline only due to the great efforts made by prominent scholars in its classical age. The relationship between theory and paradigm Next, in the second part we shall discuss about the nature and types of contemporary sociological theory. In fact, this period reflects to the time when the subject sociology could come out of its classical period both chronologically as well as conceptually. 

During this period certain important advances were made in sociology and some of the shortcomings of the classical period were also addressed to. In the third part there is a discussion on the recent advances made in sociological theories. Here we come to see of sociology not only emerging as a new discipline but also maturing as a subject. The relationship between theory and paradigm During this period sociology got established as an important mature and independent subject having its own identity. Next, in the fourth section, we shall come to know about theories and perspectives in sociology that characterise the subject with some new efforts and rigour and here we shall see how several doubts over the nature and types of sociological theories were clarified. After this, in the fifth part we shall examine how certain challenges were put forward before the sociological theory and how it responded to such problems and challenges.

The term sociology was coined by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) a French sociologist and philosopher. He is also known as father of sociology. The relationship between theory and paradigm The relationship between theory and paradigm Although he has made some significant contributions to the subject — a part of which shall be discussed here too, but the most creditable work done by him related to his efforts in establishing sociology as a scientific as well as an independent discipline.

The Concept of Paradigm  

It was Kuhn, who first suggested that development within a discipline, especially science is not a gradual process but in fact takes place quite suddenly. The relationship between theory and paradigm Hence, Kuhn’s books entitled the structure of scientific revolution. Kuhn calls these sudden charges as “paradigm shifts”. According to Kuhn, science and by extension social science undergoes its process in three phases which are discernible. i) Prescientific phase ii) Normal science iii) Paradigm shift In the initial phase theories of explanation are incomplete and completing with one another. At some point one of the theories establishes itself bringing in the phase of normal science. In this phase a single theory or a set of theories emerge dominant which Kuhn calls a paradigm.

When there is a paradigm shift the situation is one where the previous theories have proved to be redundant. The relationship between theory and paradigm For Kuhn this a natural process and it repeats itself over time as the new and established theories themselves become incomplete as knowledge expands. At this point the solution lies in modifying the theories or to abandon them for another set of dominant or competing theoretical explanations which offer more complete and better explanation for both science, social science and world-view as whole. 

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