University of Washington School of Public Health

Autumn Course 2017: Theory and Metatheory in Social Research (Soc WL 598)


SOC WL 598: Theory and Metatheory in Social Research

SLN Code: 21359

Credits: 3

Time: Tuesdays, 8:30 am– 11:20 pm 

Instructor: Taryn Lindhorst, PhD;


This graduate seminar focuses on the nature and role of theory in contemporary social welfare and social science scholarship informed by a central commitment to social justice and multiculturalism. Taking a philosophy of social science approach, it provides foundations in the socially constructed nature of theory and social “problems” and in historical changes in conceptual and theoretical perspectives on human society, interaction, and change. Domains of interest encompass a range of theoretical perspectives and provide the opportunity for exploring the theoretical and metatheoretical assumptions underpinning major research paradigms in social science and social welfare scholarship. The course also encourages critical, collaborative reflection on the role of theory in contemporary interdisciplinary research environments. The primary assignment provides students with the opportunity for in-depth study of the theoretical frameworks prevailing in their area of personal research interest. We will also consider specific topics for discussion and additional readings depending on the interests of the seminar participants.

Although this is a required seminar for doctoral students in social welfare, it is open to graduate students from other programs interested in exploring the philosophical and theoretical foundations of social science research. Interested students, faculty and graduate advisers may contact Professor Taryn Lindhorst (e-mail: