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EPISTEMIC CULTURES: (How) are epistemic cultures said to shape collaboration at this stage of the research process?

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Mike Fortun's picture
August 11, 2019

So I'll start by saying: this is as good a recuperation of "grounded theory" as we are likely to get, or at least the version of it that would be closest to what we are after.  There is much to agree with, work with, side with.  E.g.: "We argue...that the world is always conceived (both prototheoretically and theoretically) in multiple ways." (p.173)

But it is a work of sociology and can't help but be marked by that epistemic culture -- and here that can be read doubly: not only as about a culture's way of knowing, but as a naming of the sociologist's culture: it is an epistemic culture, a culture in which the epistemic is the organizing telos.  In this (my) reading, sociology is organized around and for knowing, which is equivalent to theory.  Sociology is an epistemic culture, like Southern California is a car culture. (May not be the best example but I'm in a hurry...)

Here's what I think is a key passage:

The theories developed in abductive analysis denote an attempt to generalize causal links and descriptions of the world out of particular empirical instances (see also Abend 2008:177–79; Gross 2009a). Such theories depend on the fit with observations and their plausibility in light of alternative theoretical accounts. Pragmatically speaking, better theories allow for understanding of more and a broader variety of phenomena. As a form of generalization, theory allows us to move between instances within the same study and between studies as well as to expect certain things to happen and explain how and why certain events have happened. Abductive analysis specifically aims at generating novel theoretical insights that reframe empirical findings in contrast to existing theories. (p.174)

It's all about the theory. And theory, "as a form of generalization," is about moving from the particular to the general. This is where I would start a similar reading of anthropology's "epistemic culture," which is not a culture in which theory (generalization) holds the place of honor or occupies the organizing center.  I asked Kim about what the similar organizing center for anthropology is, and she said: particularity.  And we use concepts to get at particularity.  Which can sometimes be generalized, but that's not the primary goal.

So if abduction is how you generate theory (for sociologists), how you generalize away from the multiple of the empirical or the comparative, then ab-use is how you particularize, staying with the multiple in both the empirical and the semiotic, the fractal multiple of dissemination that inheres in every thing, concept, system...

???

Mike Fortun's picture
August 7, 2019
In response to:

"grounded theory is the dominant methodology for CAQDAS users—who mention it on average 30 times more frequently than sociologists as a whole. Discourse analysis and frame analysis are less frequent in CAQDAS research than in" (p. 182) "sociological research in general, with grounded theory mentioned 300 times more fre-quently than frame analysis." p. 183

Angela Okune's picture
August 31, 2018
  • AO: The analysts argue that within some communities (they name the Central bank of Chile or an environmental NGO in Costa Rica or an alternative art space in Tokyo), there are preexisting ethnographic consciousness or curiousity (termed para-ethnography). They argue that these groups should be perceived as epistemic partners in collaborative ethnography (84).

Angela Okune's picture
August 31, 2018
  • AO: the analysts noted that conceptualization and investigation around interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration processes and outcomes has been led by behavioral scientists, and, as such, many of the evaluation strategies use behavioral methodologies (e.g., self-report surveys, latent variable analyses)” (S244)

Angela Okune's picture
August 31, 2018
  • AO: Multi-partner rather than multi-stakeholder in order to highlight the sense of shared commitment necessary for the relationships described. “Multi-partner collaborations consist of “a group of individuals from different institutions choosing to work together towards a common goal” (2).

  • AO: The analysts mention unplanned examples of collaborative synthesis projects that were developed after having face-to-face discussions, with the incentive and opportunity of additional available funding, after which the online collaborative tools were utilized. The analysts use this example to highlight the importance not just of being connected but of knowing each other. The analysts note that the participating individuals knew one another, shared mutual interests, and a sufficient level of trust had been established that enabled the development of a new idea and a funding proposal (5).

Angela Okune's picture
August 28, 2018
  • AO: The analysts stress that someone from the community should be hired to conduct this method noting: “Researchers from outside of these communities cannot obtain full or nuanced understandings of the existing contexts, histories, needs, and community responses, while a local will already have tacit and experiential knowledge of these elements.” (9) This person should be a full member of the team.

  • AO: The analysts note the importance of having an “insider” on the research team: “ Interpreting refusal and consent is a collective judgement based on engagement with the specific contexts and stakes of the research. This requires working with community members closely, and is why it is crucial to have at least one paid community member as part of the research team for this method” (18)

Angela Okune's picture
August 26, 2018
  • AO: They call out a certain kind of “love” for big, Euro-American, largely white and male theory has come to be the distinguishing mark of “serious” scholarship for so much of the social sciences and humanities (2017) and call for recognition that like everything else, theory has its contexts, histories, politics.

Angela Okune's picture
August 23, 2018
  • AO: The analyst notes that even within the discipline, there is great divide over the “integrity” of research as it relates to engagement with the study community.

Angela Okune's picture
August 21, 2018

AO: According to these analysts, the ideal collaboration requires being part of the same shared epistemic culture.

Angela Okune's picture
August 21, 2018
  • AO: Tsing notes : “taking the knowledge claims of scientists—which focus on connection, not difference—at face value as well as training ourselves (anthropologists) in mycology and forest ecology) is important since these dis- ciplines teach us new ways to appreciate the mushrooms. (381).

  • AO: Tsing notes that the various language expertises were important and sharing that talent without dividing the labor was important to share the gift of immersion fieldwork, the shifting research object (382).

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