According to Charles Lemert, social theory is a basic survival skill. He believes that social theorists (not professional) can be found in the most unlikely places. In his article, Social Theory: Its Uses and Pleasures, he speaks of his young son and also a young, poor black male named Lafeyette as two unlikely theorists. When his son was switched into a school with stricter rules, at first he was confused. As a young child he did not understand why when walking in the halls he had to stand in a line, quietly, separate from the girls. As he grew older, he began to see that schools are concerned with social rules and authority as well as academics. Here, he developed a social theory.
Ten year old Lafeyette also developed his own social theory when while being interviewed he said, “If I grow up, I want to be a bus driver.” Lafeyette was living in one of Chicago’s most dangerous housing projects at the time. The fact that he said “if if grow up” rather than “when I grow up”, shows that he is aware of the fact that many poor black boys in America sadly do not reach adulthood. Lemert argues that Lafeyette creates his own social theory here because he knew something about his social world, and was able to put it into his own words.