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Classificatory Theories

  1. Theory 2
  2. Classificatory Theories
  3. Explanatory Theories
  4. Building A Classification Theory
  5. Building An Explanatory Theory
  6. Step 2: Identify causal factors
  7. Step 3: Trace interactions among variables
  8. Step 4: Propose a scheme for evaluating causal variables
  9. Adapting And Revising Theories

Classificatory Theories

First, consider discrepancies that come to mind when you recognize that a classification system doesn’t do justice to people or events you know about. For instance, in the field of politics it is common to categorize politicians as conservatives versus liberals or as right-wingers, middle-of-the-roaders, and left-wingers. But critics have complained that such divisions fail to depict the actual policies and practices of many politicians. Where do you place a politician whose economic proposals seem conservative, social-welfare policies liberal, and views of international relations middle-of-the-road“Hence, a better system is called for. That better system could take the form of a doctoral dissertation.

Problems are also found in categorizing people by ethnic status. One common system in the U.S. involves these divisions: Anglo, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and Pacific Islander. But what about people from European or Middle-Eastern heritage who are not of Anglo-Saxon stock, such as Italians, Romanians, and Arabs”Where do they belong”And if a woman has an African-American father and an Anglo-American mother, is that woman to be classified as Anglo or Black”Again, a better typology is needed.

Another source of dissatisfaction may be your experience in trying to fit data into a classification system. Imagine that you have gathered cases of wrongdoing and now wish classify them. You try a system found in New York State law, a system that includes such types as felony, misdemeanor, minor infraction, and the like. However, when you begin dividing your cases among the types, you find that many fit none of the categories, so you end up with a heavily populated class entitled miscellaneous or unclassifiable in which you are obliged to place a great number of cases. Something is wrong with a classification scheme that fails to accommodate all cases. A better scheme is needed.

In summary, whenever you inspect a taxonomy that fails to provide classes that accommodate all of your data, you now have the opportunity to create a new classificatory theory or to revise an existing one.

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