Theorizing in social sciences: resources

Last updated on 12 August 2021

This post contains a bibliography of works on the subject of theorizing in social sciences. The list is occasionally updated. We welcome suggestions to include additional resources (just send us an email).

Journal articles, books, blog posts


Sternheimer, K. (2018, January 18). Joining the Conversation: Why Study Theory? Everyday Sociology Blog.
Sternheimer, K. (2019, April 29). Connecting the Dots: Linking Theory with Research. Everyday Sociology Blog.

Abend, G. (2006). Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and U.S. Quests for Truth. Sociological Theory, 24(1), 1–41.
Abend, G. (2008). The Meaning of ‘Theory’. Sociological Theory, 26(2), 173–199.
Abend, G. (2020). Making Things Possible. Sociological Methods & Research.
Abend, G., Petre, C., & Sauder, M. (2013). Styles of Causal Thought: An Empirical Investigation. American Journal of Sociology, 119(3), 602–654.

Becker, H. S. (2014). What About Mozart? What About Murder? Reasoning from Cases. University of Chicago Press.
Ragin C. C. & H. S. Becker (Eds.). What Is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge University Press.

Benzecry, C. E., Krause, M., & Reed, I. A. (Eds.). (2017). Social Theory Now. The University of Chicago Press.

Krause, M. (2016). The meanings of theorizing. The British Journal of Sociology, 67(1), 23–29.
Swedberg, R. (Ed.). (2014). Theorizing in Social Science: The Context of Discovery. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Swedberg, R. (2016). Before theory comes theorizing or how to make social science more interesting. The British Journal of Sociology, 67(1), 5–22.
Swedberg, R. (2017). Theorizing in Sociological Research: A New Perspective, a New Departure? Annual Review of Sociology, 43(1), 189–206.

Lizardo, O. (2014, August 17). The End of Theorists: The Relevance, Opportunities, and Pitfalls of Theorizing in Sociology Today [Lewis Coser Memorial Lecture].
Rojas, F. (2017). Theory for the Working Sociologist. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Davis, M. S. (1971). That’s Interesting! Towards a Phenomenology of Sociology and a Sociology of Phenomenology. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1(2), 309–344.
Davis, M. S. (1986). ‘That’s Classic!’ The Phenomenology and Rhetoric of Successful Social Theories. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 16(3), 285–301.

Organization, business and management studies

New Scholars, a blog for management scholars with lots of useful resources on theorizing

Aksom, H., & Firsova, S. (2021). Structural Correspondence Between Organizational Theories. Philosophy of Management, 20(3), 307–336.
Cornelissen, J., Höllerer, M. A., & Seidl, D. (2021). What Theory Is and Can Be: Forms of Theorizing in Organizational Scholarship. Organization Theory, 2(3), 1–19.

Crane, A., Henriques, I., Husted, B. W., & Matten, D. (2016). What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution in the Business and Society Field? Business & Society, 55(6), 783–791.

Sandberg, J., & Alvesson, M. (2021). Meanings of Theory: Clarifying Theory through Typification. Journal of Management Studies, 58(2), 487–516.
Bajde, D., Fischer, E. M., Cochoy, F., & Brown, S. (2021). Splashing in deep waters of theory: A commentary section on Sandberg and Alvesson’s (2020) “Meanings of theory”. Marketing Theory, 21(3), 415–432.
Sandberg, J., & Alvesson, M. (2021). Clarifying and expanding the theory typology: A reply to readers’ comments. Marketing Theory, 21(3), 433–440.

Corley, K. G., & Gioia, D. A. (2011). Building Theory about Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 12–32.
Pentland, B. T. (1999). Building Process Theory with Narrative: From Description to Explanation. The Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 711–724.
Suddaby, R. (2010). Editor’s Comments: Construct Clarity in Theories of Management and Organization. Academy of Management Review, 35(3), 346–357.
Suddaby, R. (2014). Editor’s Comments: Why Theory? Academy of Management Review, 39(4), 407–411.

Debates & special issues

Academy of Management Review, 1989

Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building Theories from Case Study Research. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532–550.
van de Ven, A. H. (1989). Nothing Is Quite so Practical as a Good Theory. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 486–489.
Weick, K. E. (1989). Theory Construction as Disciplined Imagination. The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 516–531.
Whetten, D. A. (1989). What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? The Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 490–495.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 1995

Sutton, R. I., & Staw, B. M. (1995). What Theory is Not. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 371–384.
Weick, K. E. (1995). What Theory is Not, Theorizing Is. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 385–390.
DiMaggio, P. J. (1995). Comments on ‘What Theory is Not’. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 391–397.

Sociological Theory, 2017

Besbris, M., & Khan, S. (2017). Less Theory. More Description. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 147–153.
Ermakoff, I. (2017). Shadow Plays: Theory’s Perennial Challenges. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 128–137.
Healy, K. (2017). Fuck Nuance. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 118–127.
Mears, A. (2017). Puzzling in Sociology: On Doing and Undoing Theoretical Puzzles. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 138–146.
Reed, I. A. (2017). Chains of Power and Their Representation. Sociological Theory, 35(2), 87–117.

Theorizing & literature review

Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2020). The Problematizing Review: A Counterpoint to Elsbach and Van Knippenberg’s Argument for Integrative Reviews. Journal of Management Studies.
Elsbach, K. D., & Knippenberg, D. van. (2020). Creating High-Impact Literature Reviews: An Argument for ‘Integrative Reviews’. Journal of Management Studies.

Breslin, D., & Gatrell, C. (2020). Theorizing Through Literature Reviews: The Miner-Prospector Continuum. Organizational Research Methods.
Krlev, G. (2019). The death of the literature review and the rise of the dynamic knowledge map. LSE Impact Blog.
Sternheimer, K. (2019). How (and Why) to Write a Literature Review. Everyday Sociology Blog.

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