Rethinking Classical and Modern Theory and Methodology: theorizing and method sensitivity in Social Science

Sino-Danish University invites PhD-students to participate in this innovative PhD course 2-6 December 2019 at the SDC building in Beijing, China

This PhD course aims at providing the PhD students with appropriate skills, knowledge, and capacity to choose and develop the best possible theoretical and methodological framework for their projects. Furthermore, the course will teach the students how to theorize. Very few students know the art of theorizing. The course will stress the importance of the classical tradition within social science theory and methods, but the project is to rethink and modernize the classical legacy in order to conceptualize problems and challenges in the 21st century. We need a new mode of theorizing combined with more coherent methodologies. Finally, the course will present some fairly new middle-range theories, and some methods. Throughout the whole course the PhD-students will work on their projects in relation to the theories and methods discussed in class.

The course is structured around five issues:

– What is theory, what is theorizing and how do we increase the ability to theorizing?

– We read and discuss some classical texts within organization studies, public administration, comparative political economy, and innovation studies – how is theorizing understood here?

– We discuss problems and challenges when we want to do comparative studies
(unit of analysis, comparing what?, diachronic comparison, synchronic comparison)

– We read and discuss two types of more recent theory development: 1) substantialist theories (institutional theory and rational choice) 2) relational theory (Bourdieu, Elias, Abbott). How do they theorize? What is theory? Are they all empirical sensitive?


2 – 6 December 2019


Lars Bo Kaspersen, CBS + 2-3 others professors TBC

Lars Bo Kaspersen, (b. 1961), BA (Copenhagen), MA (Copenhagen), MA (Sussex), PhD (Aarhus), Professor, Formerly Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen and Head of the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School. Has published widely on social theory and political sociology. Author of among other publications ‘Denmark in the world’. Kaspersen’s research areas are state formation processes in Europe, the transformation of the welfare state, sociology of war, civil society (including the idea of associative democracy), social theory, in particular relational theory. Together with Norman Essex, he is working on a book about Norbert Elias’s political sociology. He recently received a grant from the Carlsberg Foundation to study ‘the civil society in the shadow of the state’. His publications have appeared in journals such as Sociology, Sociological Review, European Journal of Sociology and Socio-Economic Review. Kaspersen teaches history, politics, and sociology.

Course coordinator

Professor Lars Bo Kaspersen, CBS


The participants must hold a degree in social science. They must be familiar with theories and methods within social sciences.

It is expected that the participants have read the pre-scribed reading and take part in class discussions. They need to attend the whole course in order to receive the diploma. In particular this course targets doctoral students who work within organizational studies, economic sociology, political economy, international political economy, business history, business studies, and innovation studies. However, everybody who fulfills the requirements is welcome!

The paper

Each of the participants must produce a paper about their PhD projects.
It must be no longer than three pages (first page: your topic, your research question/problem, your structure; second page: choice of theory, try to describe what kind of theory? Does it explain or understand? How do you theorize? Third page: methodological considerations, relationship between theory and methods).

The paper is due 20 November 2019. Please, send it to Lars Bo Kaspersen

Travel Stipends

The course is open to all PhD students on the terms listed above. The Principal Coordinator of the SDC Social Sciences offers 6 travel stipends of 6,000 DDK each. The stipends can be applied by non-SDC financed PhD students enrolled at the course. SDC financed PhD students must cover their cost of travel and accommodation within their overall budgets.

Applications for travel stipends should be sent to Katja Høeg Tingleff – – no later than October 1 2019. The Principal Coordinator Stine Haakonsson will shortly after decide on the distribution of the stipends.







Minimum and maximum of participants

6 – 20


No tuition fee

The event will take place at the SDC building at:
Eastern Yanqihu campus of the University of Chinese Academy of Science
380 Huaibeizhuang, Huairou district, Beijing


Course literature compendium 

You can access the literature by activating this link:

Contact information 

For course related inquiries please contact Course Coordinator Lars Bo Kaspersen or Katja Høeg Tingleff

For SDC related inquiries please contact principal coordinator Stine Haakonsson

Registration deadline

10 October 2019
Register here