Workshop: Theory Construction: Building and Advancing Theories for Empirical Social Science

— with Adrian Meier (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)

When: Thursday, September 14, 9:30 am – 3:00 pm (lunch break: 12:00 – 1:00 pm)
Where: WI, Kassenhalle

“There is nothing as practical as a good theory,” this famous quote by Kurt Lewin (1943, p. 118) is more relevant than ever for empirical social scientists. In times of rapid technological and societal change, an ever-increasing availability of digital behavioral data, and the adaptation of new methods from other disciplines (esp. computer science), social scientists need strong theories to produce reliable, practical, and, above all, replicable research results. At the same time, theory construction hardly takes place in our training, especially compared to empirical methods.

In this light, the “crash course” workshop aims to give a first half-day introduction to the basic concepts, structure, and quality criteria of social scientific theories. Subsequently, we will focus on hands-on strategies for building and advancing theory. Emphasis will be placed on the theory-building process, with some excursions into the transformation of narrative to formalized theories and iterative theory revision through empirical studies.

The workshop is targeted towards social scientists interested in developing and advancing theories, whether in the context of a “grand” theory project or as a basis for theory-building empirical contributions. The workshop will mainly focus on the micro-level of social analysis and use examples from media psychology and communication science.

Adrian Meier is Assistant Professor for Communication Science at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU). His research uses longitudinal methods, digital behavioral data, and systematic literature reviews to examine the effects of media technologies on mental health and well-being, with foci on inter- and masspersonal communication, social comparison, self-regulation, and the work-home interface. Based on their joint experience in developing theoretical frameworks and models in media psychology and communication science, Adrian created this workshop together with Dr. Daniel Possler (JMU Würzburg).