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The Role of Theory Jean Hillier GURU, Newcastle University AESOP PhD Workshop 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of Theory Jean Hillier GURU, Newcastle University AESOP PhD Workshop 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of Theory Jean Hillier GURU, Newcastle University AESOP PhD Workshop 2010

2  Introduction – which approach could I use? inductive/deductive/reproductive/adductive  Illustrations – retroductive deductive  Conclusions

3 Which Approach is Good for Me? Reasons for doing the research:  exploration  description  explanation  prediction

4 Four Possible Approaches  inductive  deductive  retroductive  abductive

5 Inductive Research Research comes before Theory unordered 'facts'  definition/classification/ measurement  ordered facts  inductive generalisation  theory construction

6 Deductive Research Theory comes before Research Research ‘tests’ the Theory a priori model or theory  data collection  testing of theory  modification of theory

7 Retroductive Research Theory comes before Research Does a structure/process operate in the way theory suggests? a priori model or theory  data collection/ case study  critical analysis of case study data  explanation of case study

8 Abductive Research Research comes before Theory Starts from the social world of the ‘actant’ theory construction unordered data  subjective interpretation of data  thematic categorisation 

9 A Retroductive Example: Actor/Actant-Network Theory Translation  incorporation – actors join and are woven into networks;  interessement – actors exert influence over others via persuasion that their position is best;  enrolment – actors lock others into their definitions;  mobilisation – the actor now speaks for the others Intermediaries: human, non-human ori_barca/fcbmuseu/continguts/planol_camp_nou.html

10 A Deductive Example: Habermas' Communicative Action  interpersonal linguistic communication  mutual understanding  rational consensus 'rules' of discussion:  all actors are allowed to participate;  all actors are allowed to introduce ideas into discussion;  all actors are allowed to question others.

11 The Ideal Speech Situation: all participants must speak  truthfully  comprehensibly  sincerely  legitimately Systematically Distorted Communication False consensus

12 Conclusions (1) What strategy you use will depend on: 1) whether you want to apply existing theory or develop new theory. 2) whether you want to test a theory using empirical data? 3) whether you want to examine data or a case study using a theoretical frame?

13  Select your theory carefully What do you want to analyse? If social institutions – think about Healey etc If power – think about ANT, Foucault, Habermas etc If ideology – think about liberalism, utilitarianism, Marxism etc etc If relationality – think about Healey, Deleuze etc If in doubt, ASK!! Conclusions (2)

14 Remember: ‘what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning’ (Heisenberg, cited in Capra, 1996: 40)  Methods PERFORM – they help to produce the realities they describe.  Different theoretical frames lead to different questions lead to different realities being interpreted.

15 Key References Blakie N Designing Social Research, Polity, Cambridge. [nb chapters 4 & 5] Punch K Designing Effective Research Proposals, Sage, London. Punch K Introduction to Social Research, Sage, London.


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