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date: 14 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines cultural sociology as a research program from an epistemological standpoint within the larger context of “post-positivist” social science. It first outlines an understanding of what sociological knowledge is and does before discussing the problematic status of cultural interpretations, with particular emphasis on the distinction between minimal and maximal interpretations. A minimal interpretation is a report upon some social actions that happened, whereas a maximal interpretation is a synthesis of abstract theoretical terms with one or more minimal interpretations. The article proceeds with an analysis of post-positivism and the debate over maximal interpretations and concludes by exploring three presuppositions that describe how the cultural sociologist is able to make explanatory knowledge claims about social life: reasons are causes; cultural theory is nominalist; and the sociohistorical world is metaphysically pluralist.

Keywords: cultural sociology, Research, social science, sociological knowledge, cultural interpretations, minimal interpretations, maximal interpretations, post-positivism, social life, reasons

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