The article considers the process of reception of the sociological hypothesis in the case of the sociological dictum widely known as the "Thomas theorem": if men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. The reason for considering the reception process was H. Blalock's assumption that the social sciences are characterized by a very low level of rejection of theoretical statements. If this assumption is true, then many false hypotheses have been circulating in scientific discourse for a long time, which creates obstacles to the development of social sciences. Thanks to a rigidly fixed eponymous name, the use of the Thomas theorem in scientific publications can be analyzed with a high degree of accuracy and reliability, which allows us to verify Blalock's assumption with a specific example. In addition, the theorem is an important hypothesis for sociology, which has the properties of verifiability and falsifiability. Therefore, high verification activity, a large number of attempts to refute or confirm the theorem, can and should be observed. The study of the functioning of Thomas theorem in sociological discourse was carried out using qualitative and quantitative content analysis. At the first stage, the phrase "Thomas theorem" was searched in the archive of the full texts of 66 leading English-language sociological journals of the JSTOR database. At the second stage, articles were distributed between different classes of theorem usage: confirmation or refutation (empirical or theoretical), empirical application of the theorem without verification, theoretical or historical-sociological discussion of the theorem without verifying it and mentioning the theorem without significant discussion. The analysis was carried out for the period 1948-2017. During all this time, Thomas theorem was mentioned 101 times in the archive of 66 journals. Of these, 79 cases without significant discussion, 13 - discussion in a theoretical or historical-sociological context, 9 - application in empirical research. Not a single detailed example of a theoretical or empirical verification of Thomas theorem was found either in the analyzed sources or in the literature to which they referred. This, of course, does not mean that no one anywhere has ever attempted to verify Thomas theorem. But if they were, that attempts, firstly, remained extremely rare, and secondly, did not attract the attention of the sociological community. Thus, the reception of Thomas theorem did not take place through testing its truth, but through using it as some "commonplace aphorism" acquired in the learning process and no longer subjected to critical consideration. This result is fully consistent with the hypothesis of H. Blalock, thereby confirming it with a specific example.

Authors

Publisher

INST HISTORY SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, SAINT PETERSBURG BRANCH, RUSS ACAD SCI

Number of issue

2

Language

Russian

Pages

58-70

Status

Published

Volume

12

Year

2021

Keywords

Thomas theorem; self-fulfilling prophecy; hypothesis testing; hypothesis reception; evolution of science; verification; falsification

Date of creation

16.12.2021

Date of change

16.12.2021

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