1. introductory paragraph
The theory is typically used to explain societal conditions and events. It can be viewed as a collaboration of agreeing on ideas that have evolved. The role of a theory in social research varies depending on the methodologies and methods used to conduct the investigation. This paper will examine the relevance of view and the context of sight to a study through the use of grand theory and meta-theory. The goal is to begin by reviewing an idea and the nature of theory development. It will go over how a single thought can be turned into a theory and how theories evolve and become adaptable to a changing world. It will also examine the various levels of ideas, with a particular emphasis on meta-theory and grand theories. Where applicable, relevant theories from the social sciences, primarily the political sciences, will be used to highlight the various levels of view. This paper also aims to explain the applications of theory in social research and why we use the approach in research. The position and role of theory in qualitative and quantitative studies will be discussed in this section. The following team will look at how theory is examined in social sciences, as well as the steps involved in theory analysis. This paper will also discuss the relationship between theory, research, and practice, emphasizing theory’s role and relevance in improving practice through research.
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2. Theory and the development of theories
The term theory can be defined as “a system of ideas formulated with the intention of explaining a certain phenomenon.” It can also be described as “a set of principles on which practice is based” (Oxford dictionary, 2018). The idea here is that a theory is defined by its ability to explain why certain things happen or do not happen and provide a framework upon which we base our actions. Theories in social sciences can assist us in organizing knowledge, understanding what we have already observed and why it occurred, and highlighting our knowledge gaps (Rags dell, West & Wilby 2002: 196-198). Theory directs research by assisting us in determining which data is relevant to the study and which data is not (Harnish, Frank &Maul 2011: 16). Theories aid in the development of frameworks for developing schools of thought and ideologies. Ideologies become a lens through which we view the world.
Ideologies, according to Karl Marx, are produced by the mode of production in a society (Parekh 2015:103), that is, the economic model of production determines ideologies. For example, in today’s modern language, the economic model of production is capitalism, which produces liberal to neoliberal ideologies. Marx’s viewpoint on ideology was emphasized in his theory of the base and superstructure. The base and superstructure theory holds that the bottom controls the superstructure. According to Marx, the superstructure, or ideological domain, emerges from the base, or realm of production, to reflect the interests of society’s ruling class and justify the status quo that keeps them in power (Parekh 2015:104). The base and superstructure have an interdependent relationship, which means that the actions of one affect the other, and thus a change in one will result in a difference in the other. This formed the basis of Marx’s revolution theory. According to the revolution theory, once the working class develops consciousness and recognizes the exploitation by the elite class of society, who own the means of production and control the distribution of wealth, the working class will revolt. This will result in a shift in ideology and the need to organize and challenge the status quo, altering society’s social structure and ideology (Parekh 2015; Drucker 1972: 152-161).
When using a theory for research purposes, it is essential to consider what makes a good theory. According to Joseph Berger and Morris Zelditch, a good thesis should be a collection of well-defined concepts that allow for practicality and can be applied. Good theories are specific and clear. A good idea should be simple, but simplicity is delicate, and we should exercise caution when developing simple approaches because the world is very complex. Oversimplification can lead to a theory losing meaning and validity. A good idea is credible, reasonable, and logically consistent. A good hypothesis should be testable and falsifiable in some way (1993: 23-24).
Because the nature of research is continuous, theories must also be adaptable. Ideas are developed within specific disciplines. Theses in social sciences can be adjusted to meet the changing needs of the world and to meet new social research standards. The process of theory development begins with a theory or theories that are empirically tested. When testing theories empirically, existing knowledge, experience, and observation are used.
The empirical test may generate a hypothesis, allowing for further investigation. Some ideas are confirmed, and others are rejected at this point, and the theory is then modified to reflect the findings of the research (Schutt 2015:26).
Theoretical frameworks in social studies are constantly evolving. As a result of a rapidly changing world, theories that can no longer explain modern-day reality are either challenged to modernize and adapt or need to be addressed by the academic and social arena. This is evident in the development of Karl Marx’s theory of inequality, known as Marxism and its new theory, neo-Marxism. Neo-Marxism is a modern approach to modifying and expanding on classical Marxist theory. Neo-Marxist scholars attempt to compensate for classical Marxism’s perceived shortcomings (Barrow 1993:8). Classic Marxism sees the struggle between the rich and the poor and sees capitalism as an exploitative system that allows for the exploitation of workers, with communism as the solution. Neo-Marxism recognizes that in the modern world, the struggle is not only between the rich and the poor or between the owners of the means of production and the working class but also between various types of inequalities such as those concerning race, gender, and international structures such as the wealth gap between the global north and the global south (Haywood 2017:121).
3. The application of theory to a study
When conducting research, we can consider theory’s contribution to the study in three ways. The first is theory as a paradigm, which plays an essential role in understanding the research design. A paradigm, according to Thomas Kuhn, is “a representation of a way of thinking that scientists share in solving problems in their fields, to represent commitments, beliefs, methods, outlooks, and so forth [that are] shared across a discipline” (Cited in Chilisa & Kuwilich 2015:1). Second, we can think of theory as a “lens” that can help us understand the conditions or events that are being studied or investigated. The third approach is to consider theory as knowledge derived from our research. Theory as a paradigm is concerned with the philosophical assumptions that comprise our social reality as we know it, or ontology, what we accept as the truth of that reality, or epistemology, and finally, how we investigate these backgrounds, known as methodology and how we gather evidence, or methods (Gay & Weaver 2011: 26; Chilisa & Kuliwa 2015: 1).
There are several questions concerning the paradigm. Some concentrate on ontology; what do we believe exists? These are an individual’s fundamental beliefs about the social world and its relationship to them. There are social realities that exist independently of humanity’s conceptualization and understanding of them, and there are social realities that we believe are created by people from specific social, cultural, and historical backgrounds. Epistemology questions what constitutes reliable and valid knowledge. These are concerned with the relationship between observable conditions and meaning interpretation. The epistemological questions are: how do we produce reliable and accurate knowledge? The emphasis here is on the strategies we can use to generate reliable knowledge. The final set of questions is about the method; these questions ask how we can collect data to test our theories. The emphasis here is on the approach to data collection or the tools that can be used that are appropriate for the methodology.
4. Theoretical Role in Qualitative and Quantitative Research
There are two types of social research models: qualitative and quantitative. A qualitative study aims to understand social phenomena through investigations and interpretations of the meanings associated with them; the primary goal is to make sense of the social world. The fundamental principles are subjectivity or interpretations, the development of a theory during and after the study, and the inductive process (Pierce 2008: 45; Taylor 2005: 101-103). When researchers use inductive studies, they begin by collecting data relevant to the topic of interest, then analyze the data and look for similar patterns, and finally develop a theory based on the data (Blaikie 2009: 154). The quantitative study’s investigation is based on testing a hypothesis composed of variables that can be measured numerically and analyzed statistically to determine whether the predictive generalization of a theory is correct or somewhat valid. This type of study is associated with the positivist or post-positivist paradigms; its core principle is objectivity; the view is stated before the study; and the goal of the research is to verify the theory; this method is frequently associated with deductive processes (Perce 2008:45; Taylor 2005: 91-92). The deductive process occurs when a hypothesis is developed based on an existing theory. It begins with a social view of interest to the researcher and progresses to its data-driven inferences. The research focus will shift from a broad to a more specific approach. The researcher investigates previous research, reads about existing theories, and hopes to test the hypothesis that emerges from those theories (Blaikie 2009:154).
In some cases, the researcher may use a combination of methods. The use of both qualitative and quantitative research techniques is referred to as mixed methods research. Concurrent mixed methods employ qualitative and quantitative strategies concurrently, whereas sequential mixed methods inform the former or vice versa (Chilisa & Kuwilich 2015:6).
Where theories may be used as a lens of understanding, the researcher will examine existing theories that seek to explain how aspects of the world work, particularly those related to the research interest. The goals here may be to revise, adapt, and confirm an existing theory, or they may be to generate a new theory or to connect conceptual frameworks. Conceptual frameworks are defined as “a writing or visual representation that explains the main things to be studied – key factors, concepts, or variables – and the presumed relationship between them” (Miles & Huberman 1994: 18). The conceptual framework is typically developed after the literature review in quantitative research; it provides the structure and background for the entire study based on the literature review; the conceptual framework is more likely to be revised at the conclusion of the study (Ravitch & Riggan 2015:12). In qualitative research, the conceptual framework is the first framework developed following the literature review, and it is then expanded as participant perspectives and issues are interpreted and analyzed (Ravitch & Riggan 2015: 14).
5. Meta Theory and Grand Theory
There are various theories and levels of theory. Different theoretical perspectives emphasize other aspects of knowledge comprehension and social research. The work of sociologist C. Wright Mill is thought to have inspired grand theory. Grand theory is concerned with the broad coverage of human societies as a research aspect. It focuses on how human societies’ social structures and organizations work and how they have evolved. It offers a point of view rather than a theoretical viewpoint. The work of early social theorists such as Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, whose primary goal was to understand society and how it functions, can be associated with grand theorization. Grand theories, according to Howard Wierda, are “…large, overarching, all-encompassing explanations of social and political behaviors that give meaning to existence, enable us to order our lives, and provide us with a conceptual framework to think about reality” (2010: 2). Theories are considered “grand” when they can explain extensive social backgrounds or attempt to link issues concerning macro level realities to issues concerning micro-level realities (Turner &Boyns 2006: 253-378). Micro-level social realities concern small-scale interactions between individuals or group dynamics. In contrast, macro-level social facts are concerned with large-scale social processes, such as issues of change and stability (Calhoun, Rojek & Turner 2005: 409). Francis Fakuyama’s End of History is an example of a significant grand theory.
In Units 3 and 4, you examined theories from other disciplines that are used in nursing. Some of these theories are used without modification in nursing such as Lewin’s Change Theory to support practice changes. Other theories are used as a foundation for development of nursing theories such as Peplau’s Theory of Interpersonal Relations founded on the work of Harry Stack Sullivan. Clearly, many non-nursing theories are used in the development of middle range theories in nursing.
Identify a middle range theory in nursing that has links to a non-nursing theory. Describe the theory and explain the relationship to the related non-nursing theory. Connect the selected middle range theory to nursing research or advanced nursing practice.
(Use at least 3 references from the year 2015 and above) (use apa style 7)