Presentation on theme: "Methodology Institute Explanation and Quality George Gaskell, Ilina Singh and Martin W. Bauer Methodology Institute London School of Economics ESRC Research."— Presentation transcript:
Methodology Institute Explanation and Quality George Gaskell, Ilina Singh and Martin W. Bauer Methodology Institute London School of Economics ESRC Research Methods Festival, Oxford July 2006
Methodology Institute 1895: First prospectus of the LSE Training in methods of scientific investigation. Scientific method to be cultivated, and not left to take care of itself The Webbs – in the Shaw Library painted by William Nicholson.
Methodology Institute The Webbs Beatrice: did not want to spend money on mere propaganda of the shibolleths of collectivisim….Reform will not be brought about by shouting. What is needed is hard thinking….So Sydney has been planning to persuade the trustees to devote the greater part of the money to encouraging research and economic study The Fabian (intellectual left wing) mission: reform of society based on scientific knowledge – back to the Enlightenment Project and anticipating evidence based policy making.
Methodology Institute The science of society What we have to do in social science is to apply the scientific method to the facts of social life. There is only one scientific method - that used in the physical sciences. It consists of three parts – observation, conjecture as to the cause and effect of the facts observed, and afterwards verification by renewed observation. This is the scientific method. B.Webb Diaries
Methodology Institute The Zeitgeist W.H.R. Rivers gave following advice to Bartlett for the study of social anthropology the best training you can possibly have is a thorough drilling in the experimental methods of the psychological laboratory For Bartlett this gives one a sense of evidence, a realisation of the difficulties of human observation, and a kind of scientific conscience which no other field of study can impart so well
Methodology Institute The LSE traditions The Cartesians –Wallas (political science) Geddes (sociology) Bowley and Moser (statistics) And the post-Kantians –Malinowski (anthropology) and Hobhouse (sociology) Philosophy –Karl Popper on falsificationism, conjectures and refutations –Imre Lakatos and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes –Thomas Kuhn and the structure of scientific revolutions
Methodology Institute The Science Wars Alan Sokal, 1996. Transgressing the boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity. Social Texts, 46/47, pp.217-252. A spoof on Derrida, Lacan and others immortalised in Sokal and Bricmont (1997) Intellectual Impostures: Post-modern philosophers abuse of science.
Methodology Institute The wars Scientific orthodoxy A world out there of objects, properties and processes; statements can be true of false but never know for certain; methods give a good handle on learning how things are – but are fallible; science is cumulative; knowledge based on sensory experience Social constructivists Knowledge is socially constructed, it is the product of social factors and not the result of objective investigation of how things are independent of social interests. Science is one form of construction and other forms are equally legitimate. The pragmatists Accept that the subject matter of the social is socially constructed but for practical purposes follow the lines of scientific orthodoxy
Methodology Institute Contrasts between quant and qual quantitativequalitative EpistemologyCartesian Stimulus/response Post-Kantian Social construction Research questionWhat is distribution of attitudes and opinions? Mapping common sense and what lies behind it DesignlinearMore flexible, quasi circular RespondentsStatistical sampling Taxonomic groups Purposive/theoretical Natural groups N of casesSampling theory/statistical power To point of saturation of meaning Data elicitationPre-specified questions standardised responses Open ended dialogue with probes Data and AnalysisNumerical inferential statistics Textual forms of discourse analysis WarrantsSee next slideHotly debated
Methodology Institute Quality indicators Well developed for quantitative research Experiments –Internal and external validity Psychometrics – –Reliability and validity Survey research –Sampling and measurement errors Three canonical quality criteria –Reliability, validity and representativeness But what of the qualitative tradition?