The main interest is the relationship between social scientific research and societal practice, with specific attention on action research and cultural-historical research. To provide a productive way to engage with these research traditions, a historically-grounded, superordinate perspective is formulated that places practice in the centre. This perspective, which is more general than and historically prior to action research and cultural-historical research, provides a principled way to consider these traditions, without trying to delimit them precisely. To make the discussion concrete, central aspects in Lewin and Vygotsky's methodological thinking about the relations between social scientific research and societal practice are explicated, providing a useful way to engage critically with the relation between social scientific research and societal practice. Lewin focused primarily on developing an idea of social research aimed at developing laws about significant societal practices. Vygotsky advocated the need to reconstruct the methodology of psychology in relation to societal practices. The concluding discussion highlights some important ideas from Lewin and Vygotsky, which have not been recognised sufficiently in contemporary reception of their ideas but deserve consideration, identifies some limitations in their views, and raises some challenges for contemporary perspectives about action research and cultural-historical research.