AbstractIn the social sciences any illusion of discovery the truth is admitted: we can just hope to have a better grasp of the meaning of the observed behaviour. Which implications has, this peculiar property of the social sciences, on the way they construct theories about the effect of the context on the formation of the social behaviour? In order to give some answers to this question, this paper consists of three parts. First, some epistemological frailties of the concept of context in the effort of understanding social dynamics are discussed. Then, some trajectories of the idea of context are briefly sketched by reconstructing three crucial oscillations of the concept around a sort of barycentre with respect to two typologies: the one distinguishing between situation and frame, the other between global, analytical and structural properties. Lastly, some minimalist rules of thumb are suggested in order to correctly associate logics of action, contextual properties and research designs.
Keywords: Social theory, explanation, individualism, context.