Beyond Positivism: Theory, Methods, and Values in Social Science Conference

Dates: August 8 – 10, 2017

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST

Conference Location: Palais des congrès de Montréal, Canada

1001 Jean Paul Riopelle Pl, Montreal, QC H2Z 1H5, Canada


There is a specter that haunts the sociological imagination: the ghost of positivism. Positivism is dead, at least in sociology. Few sociologists embrace the label. And yet positivism still shapes our thinking about theory, method, and values. We are told that the best theory is “middle-range” theory and that “grand theory” is a waste of time, while metatheory barely appears on the radar; that natural science provides the proper model for social science and that the more our methods resembles experiments the better they are; and that there is an unbridgeable chasm between facts and values that we must never attempt to cross. It is time to well and truly move beyond positivism.

We embark on this conference in light of the considerable progress already made in this direction. Post-positivists theories such as pragmatism and critical realism are receiving more attention, methodological pluralism is the name of the game, and research into morals, values, and social solidarity are becoming increasingly more popular. This conference will bring together social scientists interested in engaging critically and envisioning what a post-positivist social science looks.

Conference Plenary Speakers

Rani Lill Anjum (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Margaret Archer (University College London)

Claire Decoteau (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Dave Elder-Vass (Loughborough University)

Gary Alan Fine (Northwestern University)

Philip Gorski (Yale University)

Ruth Groff (St. Louis University)

Daniel Little (University of Michigan – Dearborn)

John Mohr (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Wendy Olsen (University of Manchester)

Ann Shola Orloff (Northwestern University)

Douglas Porpora (Drexel University)

Seth Prins (Columbia University)

Timothy Rutzou (Yale University)

George Steinmetz (University of Michigan – Ann Arbor)

Frederic Vandenberghe (Rio de Janiero University)

Christopher Winship (Harvard University)

Erik Olin Wright (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Alford Young (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

The conference has no admission fee but registration is required