American Sociological Association

Theory and Knowledge

Sociology brings together theory and evidence to explore and challenge our understanding of the social world and the frameworks we use to assert knowledge about it. Sociological theory examines, builds upon, and refines these frameworks to make their assumptions clearer, more incisive, and more useful in developing knowledge.

Sociological theory entails critical thinking about the factors that influence knowledge and what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. It includes debates about: economic theories that assert individuals always make rational choices to maximize their interests; how interactions within social networks affect individual and group behavior; how feminist, race, and queer perspectives impact our understanding of society and identity; and the cultural and social legacies of colonialism and imperialism.

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