Author Professor Kirby
Sociologist Robert Merton advocated for middle-range theory and these theories are often derived from grand theories (Liehr and Smith, 2017, p. 51). Merton explains it as a theory that lies between the minor, but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance in daily research and it’s a systematic effort to develop a unified theory (Liehr and Smith, 2017, p. 51). There are two diagrams below to be used as visual aids to help everyone better understand middle-range theories.
Middle-range theories are rooted in sociology and usually are focused on social behavior and social change. However, as a result of the influence of sociology, many critics are not in favor of the use of these theories in a different disciplinary setting. Consequently, “Thorne suggests that nurses do not simply borrow theories from other disciplines, but twist and bend them to serve the disciplinary purpose” (Liehr and Smith, 2017, p. 54). The development of this theory has led to middle range theories that are more reflective of a nursing theme than a sociology theme, such as caring and comfort theories (Liehr and Smith, 2017, p. 59). Liehr and Smith (2017), emphasizes the importance of choosing a name that describes the main ideas of the theory (p. 55).
Liehr, P., & Smith, M.J. (2017). Middle range theory a perspective on development and use. Advances in Nursing Science Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 51–63.
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