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Consultancy Report, SB, Singapore This book, which has devoured the last two years of our lives, is the product of a friendship and intellectual partnership
This book, which has devoured the last two years of our lives, is the product of a friendship and intellectual partnership. It began as an innocuous idea that grew with such strength that it developed about social theory, and we hope that it will do the same for others. The book is intended to clarify and help overcome what seems to be some of the major sources of confusion within the social sciences at the present time.
Initially, it had a fairly specific objective: to attempt to relate theories of the organization to their wider sociological context. In the course of development, however, this endeavor widened in scope and evolved into an enterprise
embracing many aspects of philosophy and social theory in general. As such it now stands as a discourse in the social theory of relevance to many social science disciplines, of which those in the general area of organization studies – industrial sociology, organization theory, organizational psychology, and industrial relations – are but special cases by which we illustrate our general themes.
Our proposition is that social theory can usefully be conceived in
terms of four key paradigms based upon different sets of metatheoretical assumptions about the nature of social science and the nature of society. The four paradigms are founded upon mutually exclusive views of the social world. Each stands in its own right and generates its own distinctive analyses of social life. With regard to the study of organizations, for example, each paradigm generates theories and perspectives which are in fundamental
opposition to those generated in other paradigms. Such an analysis of social theory brings us face to face with the nature of the assumptions which underwrite different approaches to social science.
It cuts through the surface detail which dresses many social theories to what is fundamental in determining the way in which we see the world which we are purporting to analyze. It stresses the crucial role played by the scientist’s frame of reference in the generation of social theory and research.
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