Social Theory and Social Practice is a unique effort at applied social theory. Hans L. Zetterberg believes that social research has now advanced so far that social scientists can give advice without being restricted to new research projects. They can use previously proven theories as the basis for sound practical recommendations. This approach has profound implications in the application of social science to problems in business management, labor strife, government decision-making, in such areas as education, health and human welfare. It remains a pioneering discourse for practitioners of social research and social policy.
Zetterberg gives a searching review of the various ways in which social practitioners attempt to use the accumulated knowledge of social science. He proceeds with a compact summary of the knowledge of the academicians of social science, noting that practitioners are often unaware of much useful academic knowledge. The process by which this knowledge is transformed into practical advice is spelled out in detail, and is illustrated with examples from an actual consultation about problems faced by an art museum that wanted to increase its audience.
Chapter 1 identifies the problem; chapter 2, "The Knowledge of Social Practitioners," outlines practitioners' reliance on scientific knowledge; chapter 3, "The Knowledge of Social Theorists," discusses sociological terms and sociological law; chapter 4, "The Practical Use of Social Theory through Scholarly Consultants," explores the actual specificity of social theory and its uses, while the concluding chapter examines the uses of consultants, covering some prerequisites for the successful use of applied science. The book rejects the widespread view that in order to put social science to use, we have to popularize its content. Zetterberg's approach is rather to translate a client's problem into a powerful theoretical statement, the solution to which is calculated and then presented to the client as down-to-earth advice.
This volume will be of immediate interest to scholars in the field of social theory; to consultants and practitioners who give advice on social problems and policy decisions; and to executives who use advice from social scientists.