In this textbook, Derek Layder offers a better understanding of the links between theory and research, and provides an analysis of the relationship between the two. He develops clear usable strategies to encourage theory development in the practical context of social research, and introduces a new approach - adaptive theory - which can be used to generate new theory as well as develop existing theory in conjunction with empirical research. Layder concludes by providing an outline of new rules of sociological method that show how adaptive theory can be put into practice.
In the area of social theory I am interested in how agency and structure combine in social life. In relation to this I have developed the 'theory of social domains' which represents my own attempt to deal with the agency-structure problem. I have also developed a methodological approach called 'adaptive theory'. This attempts to harness the creative synergy between 'received' (or 'preconceived') and 'emergent' theory, but also depends on a close connection between the construction of explanatory theory and the collection of empirical data. My ongoing interests are in drawing out the links between the 'theory of social domains' and 'adaptive theory' in the context of empirical research. With these objectives in mind I have recently completed studies of self-identity, emotion, intimacy, and power and control in social life.
The Links between Theory and Research Elements of the Research Process Analysing Data with Theory in Mind Social Research and Concept-Indicator Links From Theory to Data Starting To Theorize Towards Adaptive Theory Some New Rules of Method