In knowledge production and research process what do we do?

In knowledge production and research process what do we do?
understanding – pattern recognition
-of making and validating certain kinds of connections
What is new to us:
-it is like is unlike is an example of ...-it is related to ...
-it seems to be doing, or functioning as ...-it seems to have its
origins in ...
-it seems to be composed of ...-it seems to have ... consequences etc.
classifying and relational activity
relationships of identity, making connections
related to, or classified in terms of what?
strategies of categorization and association (which depend on situation)
Knowledge production
 What is important or relevant?
understanding of a phenomenon in the abstract and definition of its
 we operate with:
questions, assumptions, methods and evidence
Our conceptual “luggage”
 To reach an understanding of a phenomenon in the abstract and definition of
its characteristics
 we have to have theory
 A theory
 is a general statement about the relationship between phenomena, the
systematic relationship between the observed entities.
Theory is interdisciplinary, it has effects outside an original discipline
Theory is analytical and speculative: we make an attempt to find out what
is it that we call ethnicity, sex, language etc.
Theory is a critique of common sense, of concepts taken as natural.
Theory is reflexive, thinking about thinking, enquiry into the categories we
use in making sense of things. (J. Culler)
 Concepts are the building blocks of theory.
 A concept is an idea expressed as a symbol or in words.
 E.g.: Symbolic form: Π
Formula: s=d/t
Words: height
Concept of “height”
 Height, hauteur, höhe, altura: same idea
 What does it mean?
 It represent an abstract idea about physical relations.
 Height is a characteristic of a physical object, the distance from top to bottom.
 Concept: symbol (word or term)+ definition
 I learned the word “height” and its definition as learned to speak and was
socialized to the culture.
 A paradigm
 is a fundamental model or scheme that organizes our view of something.
 Paradigms are, so to speak, larger theories which include smaller ones
 example: Newtonian physics and Eisteinian physics.
We are not empty vessels
 Theoretical perspectives influence the research and analysis.
Personal notions and shared meaning:
some personal notions are more close to those of others than are other personal
notions--or more accurately, that their verbal and written expressions of
these notions are so (as we never know what others think)
we are always inferring beliefs from behaviour and
we often assume far more consistency of beliefs among any
population than really exists
there is a certain degree of sharing of meanings between people--or
perhaps more accurately, of people holding similar meanings
that particular meaning are similar
a. no meanings literally can be shared (No Derrida!)
b. this is a matter of degree
c. absolute relativity of knowledge among humans is a very debatable
Functionally speaking:
-there are many things people must know to be minimally functional in
the world: a practical sense of physical laws, basic logic, a sense of
space, etc.
-these are encoded in everyone’s meanings
a considerable amount of personal knowledge has a cultural basis
a. “all beliefs are cultural”?
b. culture - social processes
Culture, refers to social mechanisms that generate, maintain and
change knowledge asserted to be rightfully common to particular
groups or populations
a. social production and sanction of knowledge
b. true, factual, a sense of “objectivity” or
cultural mechanisms have generated perceived consensus about
certain things
Factual, objective?
what is research?
-it involves systematic data collection/production
-it involves the generation of an overview-- expand the knowledge base of a knowledge community.
-research is an exercise in pattern recognition and generation,
which itself is based on making connections.
Research is:
a. systematic inquiry, with "transparent" mechanisms to collect data, etc.
b. based on the axioms, approaches, values and prior findings of some
knowledge community (or field of knowledge)
c. with the object of establishing new facts or principles
d. and communicating the results to that or other knowledge
all of these are very socially and culturally-based behaviours
what are “methods?”
Methods relate to techniques of data collection, but also to a great deal more-a. to framing a research question appropriately-b. to selecting modes of inquiry
c. to selecting ways of making connections
d. to techniques of literature review
d. to certain techniques of data analysis
e. to techniques of data presentation such as writing ethnographies
- “writing” is a method
in simple terms "method": a general yielding of data
what are "techniques"?
methods are the whole range of techniques of anthropological inquiry,
from those that relate to formulating a research question to those
pertaining to how results are communicated to others.
The adoption of specific techniques is only one aspect of a larger
methodological stance determined by theoretical ideas concerning the
construction of the phenomena investigated.
Differences between natural sciences and social sciences and
Natural sciences are less concerned with their methodology
Social sciences do not only try to yield data but also develop and
test new research procedures.
Preoccupation with methodology in social science drives from the
effort to deal with the influence of the subject on the object and with
the consequences of this influence for the process of knowing and
knowledge production.
what anthropology is re-defined
a. fieldwork--which is not a specific method
b. the ethnography
c. fieldwork and ethnographies are logically separate, but historically were
completely connected
Newer directions and challenges:
a. the rise of applied anthropology
b. the rise of urban anthropology
c. increased theoretical sophistication, demanding more comprehensive
attention to methods
d. critiques of writing ethnography
e. anthropological interest in a whole host of historically ‘nonanthropological’ research topics
-especially those having to do with social issues and social problems
-textual analysis
f. the disarticulation of anthropology and ethnographic methods