Meeting Five (Monday, May 25, 17:00

Meeting Five (Monday, May 25, 17:00-19:00)
Methodology: interpretation, understanding, explanation
The debate concerning the “proper” methodology of the social sciences never stops. Should we
explain or interpret? Is the reality social sciences study of the same kind as the reality
investigated in the natural sciences? Naturalism and anti-naturalism are two ontological positions
associated with two epistemologies and methodologies. We will take a glance at this debate
while studying a classic article by one of the “gurus” of the interpretivist social science: Clifford
Geertz. We will also discuss the role of ethnography in other than anthropology disciplines.
Required readings:
Geertz, Clifford. 1972. “Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight,” in Paul Rabinow and
William Sullivan (eds.), Interpretive Social Science: A Reader (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1972), 181-223. Also in The Interpretation of Cultures 1973, 421-53.
Kubik, Jan. 2009. “Ethnography of Politics: Foundations, Applications, Prospects,” forthcoming
in Political Ethnography: What Immersion Contributes to the Study of Power, Edward
Schatz, ed., forthcoming (September 2009), University of Chicago Press.
Kubik, Jan. 2009. “Introducing rigor to teaching interpretive methods (To interpret or not to
interpret, that is the question).” Qualitative Methods Newsletter, American Political
Science Association, (forthcoming 2009).
1. Continued from Meting Four:
1.1. Steven Lukes: three faces of power:
1.1.1. First: pluralistic (competition of “equal” orientations);
1.1.2. Second: mobilization of bias: what gets politicized; who controls the agenda;
What gets discussed in the public space?
1.1.3. Third: power influences “ the conceptions of necessities, possibilities, and
strategies” (Laitin); what is thinkable and doable; definition of categories out of
which an agenda may be constructed (Stalin as “an engineer of human souls”).
1.2.The concept of legitimacy: See Kubik pages 8-9.
1.3.The concept of the human being:
1.3.1. Homo symbolicus
1.3.2. Homo rationalis
1.3.3. Homo habilis