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concepts

concepts The terminological means by which social scientists seek to analyse social phenomena, to classify the objects of the observed world, impart meaning through explanation to these phenomena, and formulate higher-level propositions on the basis of these observations. Concepts have themselves been categorized in many ways, for example one distinction is between those which describe directly observable phenomena, and those which signify inferred phenomena. The malleability of concepts is attested to by the fact that there is controversy over their definition and indeed there exists a class of such concepts termed ‘essentially contested concepts’. Many concepts in the social sciences are both descriptive and evaluative and many carry emotional or theoretically loaded overtones. Such terms as exploitation, alienation, discrimination, and even social class bring with them a heavy baggage of values (see S. Nowak , Methodology of Sociological Research, 1977
).

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