Being a student of the Social Sciences, why is it important that you move from implicit theories of everyday life to more explicit theories grounded in intellectual thought and research?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One particular reason as to why the Social Sciences has to make the move from implicit theories about every day life to explicit theories grounded in research is because it validates the course of study.  Implicit understanding is limited in its own construction because it involves "personal constructions about some particular phenomenon that reside in the minds of  individuals."  Implicit understanding has its place, but also contains many limitations.  Implicit understanding is unable to make any type of general assertion. Subjectivity limits implicit understanding.  The student of the Social Sciences recognizes that they embody a form of "Science."  A major premise of any type of "Science" is its ability to make claims that are substantiated by research, grounded in data collection techniques that can be applied in different settings.  This becomes part of the appeal of explicit theories grounded in intellectual thought and research:  

Grounded theory has considerable significance because it (a) provides explicit, sequential guidelines for conducting qualitative research; (b) offers specific strategies for handling the analytic phases of inquiry; (c) streamlines and integrates data collection and analysis; (d) advances conceptual analysis of qualitative data; and (e) legitimizes qualitative research as scientific inquiry. Grounded theory methods have earned their place as a standard social research method and have influenced researchers from varied disciplines and professions.

Grounded explicit theory is important because it is research based.  It consists of more than the implicit understanding which exists within the individual's mind and is confirmed by subjectivity.  Certainly, the Social Scientist recognizes the value of implicit theory as far as it impacts the role and understanding of the individual.  Implicit theories impact the way individuals see themselves and their world.  Yet, implicit theory can only be enhanced through grounded theory, which is based out of data collection and analysis.  Grounded explicit theory moves the student of Social Sciences into the realm of "Scientist."  This becomes a significant reason as to why the shift from implicit to grounded theory is so important for the student of Social Sciences.

Another significant reason why this paradigm movement is so important because it helps to bring validity to the Social Sciences field. Grounded theory that presents methods of data collection through qualitative research and presents solutions is what makes the Social Sciences so relevant.  When Social Sciences moves into this realm, of seeking to actually solve social conditions as opposed to merely articulating them, then the Social Sciences becomes more meaningful and more relevant:

New social science departments could also help to better train students by engaging in new types of pedagogy. For example, in the natural sciences, even college freshmen do laboratory experiments. Why is this rare in the social sciences? When students learn about social phenomena, why don’t they go to the lab to examine them — how markets reach equilibrium, how people cooperate, how social ties are formed? 

Grounded explicit theory can present solutions.  When Social Sciences embrace this grounded theory rooted in intellectual thought and research, problems can be solved.  The student of Social Science should be eager to facilitate such a movement, as it brings relevance and meaning to their discipline and course of study.