In conclusion, Ritzer's attempt to use a paradigmatic approach to social theory fails because his "paradigms" are simply arbitrary classifications of social thought. His levels of social reality also do not relate to social levels in real life. They too are merely conventions for comparing sociologists. Theories of emergence developed from a study of complex systems show how clearly demarcated levels arise from what at a different level of magnification appears to be a continuum. It is these levels derived from an examination of social reality as a complex system that constitute meaningfull classifications of social levels. It is through a critical study of these as seen through the eyes of sociologists who devote their energies to solving problems which exist in these levels. If we ever expect to develop an integrated science of sociology, this knowledge must be combined with an understanding of the ways these levels interact with each other.

The paradigmatic approach that has proven to be so fruitful for the physical sciences would be far too dogmatic for sociology without a body of objectively evaluated and universally recognized basic theories. I have a strong feeling that such a body of theories is not likely to emerge in the foreseeable future. Even then it is quite likely they will prove to be irrelevant for solving real social problems. The point is that the social sciences deal with systems that systems that are complex, meaning they interact on many levels and the details of the lower levels are not necessarily relevant to the structure of the upper. Physical sciences, on the other hand, can make excellent use of the paradigmatic approach only because they deal with simple systems that can be dealt with on just one, or at best a few levels.


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