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This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor’s personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. This article needs additional citations for verification. Social theories are analytical frameworks, or paradigms, that are used to study and interpret social phenomena.
Social theory by definition is used to make distinctions and generalizations among different types of societies, and to analyze modernity as it has emerged in the past few centuries. Social theory as it is recognized today emerged in the 20th century as a distinct discipline, and was largely equated with an attitude of critical thinking and the desire for knowledge through a posteriori methods of discovery, rather than a priori methods of tradition. Social thought provides general theories to explain actions and behavior of society as a whole, encompassing sociological, political, and philosophical ideas. Modernity arose during the Enlightenment period, with the emergence of the world economy and exchange among diverse societies, bringing sweeping changes and new challenges for society. The Enlightenment period was marked by the idea was that with new discoveries challenging the traditional way of thinking, scientists were required to find new normativity.
This process allowed scientific knowledge and society to progress. These ideas did not draw on ideas of the past from classical thinkers, nor involved following religious teachings and authority of the monarch. A common factor among the classical theories was the agreement that the history of humanity is pursuing a fixed path.