Nearly all of sociology's top graduate training programs require their students to complete one or two courses on sociological theory. The instructors for these courses have an extraordinary opportunity to affect the perspectives and practices of future generations of scholars. This study assesses the backgrounds, attitudes, beliefs, and practices of those instructors regarding different approaches to theorizing, with particular attention paid to topics related to science and to theory construction. Sociologists who teach required theory courses in the discipline's top fifty graduate training programs were asked a series of questions pertaining to their own training and to the courses they were teaching: attitudes toward different kinds of theorizing, perceptions of the role that theory plays in sociology and in science, and views on the nature of science. Results indicate a strong consensus on the most important classical theorists (Marx, Weber, and Durkheim). However, attitudes and practices varied widely in regard to other classical theorists, contemporary sociological theory, and the role of scientific standards in the development of sociological knowledge. The author explores some of the implications of these attitudes and practices.
Sociological Perspectives, Volume 51, Issue 2, Summer 2008, pages 423-445.