Synoptic Vision: Metatheory, Conceptualisation, and Critical Realism

Jon Frauley


This paper takes recent sociological debate about “transdisciplinarity” (Carroll 2012; Puddephatt and McLaughlin 2015; Mišina 2015) as a springboard for elaborating on the sociological relevance of meta-theoretical engagement, particularly with critical realism. Sociologists need to more forcefully acknowledge the importance of engaging with metatheory if they are to think more productively and creatively about how the philosophical assumptions that have shaped the production of theories, research design, research practice, and the organisation of our field facilitate and delimit the production of insights about the multifaceted nature of sociological objects and practice. As meta-theorising promotes the neglected procedure of conceptualisation (as opposed to operationalisation) and because it is transdisciplinary (promoting the shedding of disciplinary boundary maintenance while remaining rigorous and methodical), it should be routinely engaged by social scientists to yield conceptual synthesis and fuller, more adequate forms of explanation of their particular objects of investigation.


Synoptic Vision, Metatheory, Methodology, Epistemology, Ontology, Transdisciplinarity, Sociological Imagination, Sociology, Critical Realism, Conceptualization, Philosophy Of Social Science

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