I do not wish to use the word ‘methodology’ in a very precise sense though the burden of what I have to say will fall towards what we might term the epistemological end of things. That is to say, I am not so much concerned with research techniques as with claims concerning the appropriate methods for gaining social and scientific knowledge. In the spirit of this rather loose interpretation of the word much of what I say will stray across that hazy boundary between methodology and theory – even meta-theory. Again I do not want to draw any boundaries; I am in what follows concerned with that activity in sociology which debates the relative virtues of alternative ways of conceptualising social reality and thus presumably attempting to gain knowledge of it.