Formal theorizing in the social sciences is today in some danger of becoming baroque. A frequent scenario seems to be the following. In a first stage, there exists a theoretical problem with immediate economic, social or political significance. It is, however, ill-understood, perhaps even ill-defined. In the second stage, a proposal is put forward to conceptualize the problem in a way that dispels confusion and permits substantive conclusions to be drawn. In a third stage the conceptual apparatus ceases to have these liberating effects, and becomes a new, independent source of problems.
Jon Elster & Aanund Hylland, ‘Introduction’, in Foundations of Social Choice Theory, Cambridge, 1986, p. 1