Paradigms, Theories, and Methods in Contemporary Rural Sociology: A Critical Reaction to Critical Questions



Abstract The content analysis by Falk and Zhao (1989) of theoretical orientations shown in Rural Sociology articles during the span 1976–1985 is critically evaluated as to its methodological adequacy and substantive conclusions. The former is shown as suspect and, therefore, the latter become moot. Discussion is particularly focused on the elaboration by Falk and Zhao on the wisdom of the metatheoretical underpinnings of the field in the decade explored. While they are less critical in judgment of rural sociology's performance than was the earlier study being “replicated” (Picou et al. 1978a), the assertion made by Falk and Zhao is still fundamentally misdirected. Until rural sociology faces the issue of data quality, its improvements in “theory” activity will not be substantial.