Basic Characteristics and Main Elements of Scientific Theories essay

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Theories are systematic tools that are employed in explaining, understanding and making of predictions regarding different subject matter. There are various theories from various fields of study including those from sciences and arts

1. A) Edles and Appelrouth (2010) theory is a system of generalized statements or proposition about phenomena. Theory shows us what is beneath the surface. Theories call or attention to certain elements in the world. They wanted to find a sociological theory that could inspire enthusiasm in undergraduate students while providing them with analytical tools for understanding theory and exposing them to original writings from top theorists. The basic characteristics of scientific theorize according to Appelrouth and Edles are;

To explain and predict the phenomena in question; A scientific theory should be able clarify, make clear or to account for a fact, occurrence or circumstance that can be observed. Thus, it has arguments are always aimed at presenting a conclusion, and the points offered in support of the conclusion are called premises. The conclusion and premises of a scientific theory must tally with each other.

Produce testable and thus falsifiable hypotheses; A scientific theory should also come up with extraordinary things that can be discussed or experimented in order to come up with new facts

B) Scientific theories is made up of at least 3 elements; concepts, definitions and relationships.


 These are general ideas that we use in science to understand what we are looking at or whatever we are investigating. However, because a concept is an idea and not an object, we must be very careful to stake out the lengths to which it covers of the concept through clear and uniform definitions. Definition is therefore a formal statement of the meaning of a word or phrase used to bring out the concept.

One other element that we must consider is that scientific theory contains relational phrases or statements.These are statements that explain the relationships among and between the numerous concepts. Scientists know how a phenomenon will change because they understand the relationships among their concepts or general ideas.

Question 2

Science assumes that the universe is empirical, that it operates according to law-like principles, and that humans can discover those laws through thorough investigation. Science also has very specific goals, as do most knowledge systems.

Through discovery, scientists want to explain phenomena, predict and control phenomena, and accumulate knowledge. Scientific perspective reasons that we need to have scientific theories in order to function in the normal world. It believes that all human behavior originates from a theory and people have various premises to explain the conclusions of their actions always. Points are always offered to support various reasoning or conclusions in the society.

Most of the early sociological thinkers, like Durkheim, were convinced that a scientific approach could be used to prevent or lower the ill effects of social unrest, revolution, and early capitalism. Clearly, if society is objective and behaves according to universal laws, then figuring out how it works and controlling it to eradicate such things as racism and inequality is desirable (Adams,1995).. It was being compared to medicine controlling germs and human bodies to eradicate polio. Interpretists on the other hand generally focus on meaning and argue that symbolic and subjective meanings are the most important features of social life. But the important part is meaning does not exist as an intrinsic feature of any sign, symbol, or object. Meaning has to be is attributed or added according to the social context; meaning is therefore derived from the definition.

Meaning does not exist in social categories either. We have to create them, and this can be done in any way we want. For example, we usually think of gender as having two categories (male and female), but some societies have a third category (the berdache) that is neither male nor female. Therefore the interpretists did not believe that the society had to have specific laws that must be followed but alternatively every situation could be described as a single situation. They highly disagreed with the scientists who believed that every occurring event in life had a substantive conclusion, for them each and every circumstance had its own law.

Question 5

5a) According to Parsons, T (1955) the basic and irreducible functions of the family include;

Primary socialization of children

This is so that they can truly become members of the society that they have been born in. This means that the child learns the norms of the society from the family he or she is born in. Stabilization of the adult personalities of the population of the society. If we come from different families it means we will have different personalities hence stability in the society.

 Parsons also looked at conditions under which effective socialization could take place which include being placed in a social situation where more powerful and responsible persons are themselves integrated in the cultural value system in question. This automatically means that the less powerful will imitate the more powerful ones and learning will take place. We must however note that a child should not be placed in just any system but in a special system which fulfils the necessary psychological requirements needed to accomplish the process of socialization over a succession of stages.

Question 12

According to Parsons, T. (1956) a social system is always characterized by a societal norms system. The social system’s major functional problem is maintaining the integrity of the value system and it institutionalization. This process of maintenance means stabilization against pressures to change the value system, pressures which come up from two primary sources:

Cultural sources of change. Certain problems of cultural consistence may mean that cultural changes taking place outsidethe value system relevant to the social system in question (e.g., changes in the belief system) may mean change in important values within the social system. The tendency to stabilize the system i.e. maintain and preserve its value system in the face of pressures to change values through cultural channels may be called the 'pattern maintenance' function.

Motivational sources of change

 Motivational 'pressures', arising from 'strains' in any part of the social situation or from other intra-personal sources [i.e. sources within persons], may threaten individual motivation to conformity with institutionalized role expectations. Stabilization against this potential source of change may be called 'tension management'. The first functional problem, therefore of a social system of action is 'pattern maintenance and tension management’ changing the stability of the institutionalized value system.

The second imperative is the processes of interchange between systems and situation. Different people face different situations at different times, therefore makes it very difficult to conform to the society’s value system.

The third imperative is the system must 'seek' goal states by controlling elements of the situation. This is done through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement.  This therefore makes most situations unnatural and individual does not therefore learn on their own but are kind of programmed to behave in a certain way due to the reinforcement.

The fourth functional imperative for a social system is to 'maintain togetherness' in the relations between the smaller groups in the interest of effective functioning; this is the imperative of system integration.

Question 15

A formal rationally organized social structure involves clearly defined patterns of activity in which, ideally, every series of actions is functionally related to the purposes of the organization. Bureaucracy is administration which almost completely avoids public discussion of its techniques, although there may occur public discussion of its policies.

Formality is manifested by means of a more or less complicated social ritual which symbolizes and supports the various offices. Such formality, which is integrated with the distribution of authority within the system, serves to minimize friction by largely restricting official contact to modes which are previously defined by the rules of the organization. Ready calculability of others' behavior and a stable set of mutual expectations is thus built up.

Where primary concern is with conformity to the rules there is interference with the achievement of the purposes of the organization, in which case we have the familiar phenomenon of the techniques of the official.

This kind of pattern within an organization has made the American public develop a very negative attitude towards working in organizations. This is simply because the outcomes are not as emphasized as the rules. It is all about following rules and this therefore makes working in that environment very difficult. It also tends to produce the same result and therefore makes work very boring hence lack of motivation.

Functionaries however have the sense of a common destiny for all those who work together. They share the same interests, especially since there is relatively little competition insofar as promotion is in terms of seniority. This however limits personal relationships as there is nothing of interest in another person.

We can therefore reach a conclusion and say that bureaucracy does not function well within organizations and does not result to maximum output.

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