The use of theory is an integral part of dissertation-writing, elevating what otherwise would be a voluminous „essay“ to a work of science.
Perfected over the centuries following the scientific revolution, theory has become an indispensable tool for not only examining the world and uncovering
its law-like truths and regularities, but, in doing so, also enabling the observers to move beyond their inherent (and often unrecognised and unacknowledged)
prejudice, the limitations of human mind and senses (both being rife with imperfections and evolutionary biases), and the pre-established (and prevailing)
dominant truths and dogmas of the day. The application and use of theory, however, is far from straightforward. Invoking the metaphor of a „tool“, one must be careful
to select a proper theory for a given task. The sensitivities and intuitions necessary for the pairing of „tools“ and „tasks“ are only developed by careful
examinations of the problems (i.e. research questions) at hand, together with the building-up of an effective and well-stocked theoretical „toolkit“.
In addition, great deal of attention needs to be paid to many of the analytical problems and categories that are to be found in scientific research of the „social“,
such as the dilemma of explaining vs. understanding; the „levels of analysis“ problem; issues of the voluntarism of agency and structural determinism; the nature of
causality and numerous others.
Jaroslav Weinfurter, M.Sc., M.A.