Adam Worrall

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Spring 2010, taught by Dr. Michelle M. Kazmer

This course, per its syllabus, provided for discussion and critique of “the structural components and research processes related to the origination, construction, and evolution of theory.” The major assignments in the course were four papers discussing and analyzing theories, with the focus of the last three papers being one particular theory chosen by the students as relating to their research topic of interest. I chose Susan Leigh Star’s boundary object theory for these papers. There was also one discussion leading session of an assigned class reading and a final presentation of one’s chosen theory at the end of the semester.


  • Paper 1, a discussion of three theories “that might have a reasonable and cogent application to your own research ideas.” I chose to discuss social network theory, Sonnenwald’s theory of information horizons, and Star’s boundary object theory.

  • Paper 2, a discussion of one theory’s origins and development over time, including the theorists, its intellectual traditions, and its development, application, and modification over time by both the original theorists and by others. As noted above, I chose Star’s boundary object theory to focus on for this and the remaining papers.

  • Paper 3, an “extremely rigorous and systematic dissection” and analysis of one theory, including chiefly the concepts and propositions, as well as a brief overview of criticisms and limitations seen in the literature.

  • Paper 4, a discussion “of how the theory might be applied to, and refined as a result of, the research problem you wish to explore.”


The slides I prepared for my presentation on boundary object theory are available for review.

Discussion leading

I was assigned to lead a discussion of the following book chapter:

Wagner, H. R. (1974). Types of sociological theory. In R. S. Denisoff, O. Callahan, & M. H. Levine (Eds.), Theories and paradigms in contemporary sociology (pp. 41–52). Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock.

Dr. Kazmer did not intend this to be a presentation style of discussion leading, and as such I did not prepare any slides to present. However, I did pass out a handout to the students, as well as prepare some notes for myself to work from; these are both included in this PDF file.