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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fallding: 'model'

"The ideal type, as a case of the heuristic, resembles what is now called a model. ... He [Nagel] makes model refer simply to the mental imagery with which we clothe our theoretical entities in order to have some pictorial grasp of them : ... essentially analogies, yet they do more than help us visualize; they help our thinking to unfold by taking it in new directions. 
[Model] is taken to mean a system of concepts that is useful in mapping the variables in a field under investigation. It may be a corner of a field or the whole field of the subject: a model may be of bureaucracy, for instance, or of society in general. ... in scientific work we do not start out with an empty mind, nor even with isolated hypotheses. We start with a guess about the whole structure of our universe of discourse. The coherence that goes into this system of concepts, a coherence whereby each concept is defined by the relationship in which it stands to the others, is analogous to explanation but is not explanation in fact. For it is not an account of reality as it has been experienced" (p. 510).

Harold Fallding. Explanatory Theory, Analytical Theory and the Ideal Type. In. Thompson, K. and Tunstall, J. (eds.): Sociological Perspectives, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1971.

Excerpt from Harold Fallding. (1968) The sociological task. Prentice-Hall.