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PhD Seminar 2010: Social construction

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Presentation to LSE PhD students on Social Constructionist Research in Org Studies

Presentation to LSE PhD students on Social Constructionist Research in Org Studies

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PhD Seminar 2010: Social construction PhD Seminar 2010: Social construction Presentation Transcript

  • Social constructionist thinking in Organizational Research Katrina Pritchard 9.2.2010
  • Agenda
    • My PhD experience
    • Why this topic today?
    • Fundamental philosophical issues
    • What is social construction?
    • Reflexivity: a useful tool in research practice
    • Reflexivity exercise
    • Study of social construction of professional
    • knowledge which combined ethnographic and
    • discourse analytic approaches
    • Key Research Questions:
    • How do HR professionals discursively construct knowledge and perform knowing?
    • What constructions of HR professional knowledge emerge?
    • In what ways are these constructions enacted?
    My PhD experience
  • My PhD experience
    • 03/04: (p/t) research design, lit review
    • 04/05: field work, initial analysis
    • 05/06: analysis, writing
    • 06/07: reworking analysis, more writing!
    • Data: recordings, transcripts, field notes, documentary sources
    • Thesis: 93,000 words, viva 26/11/07
  • Why this topic today?
    • ‘ .. To make unexamined metatheoretical commitments, and remain unaware of their origins, amounts to an abdication of intellectual responsibility which results in poor research practices.’
    • Johnson, P. and J. Duberley (2003). Reflexivity in management research. Journal of Management Studies 40(5): 1279-1303
  • Why this topic today?
    • Whether explicitly acknowledged or not, all research is underpinned by both ontological and epistemological assumptions
    • An appreciation and understanding of these issues is important for both critiquing the literature and being reflexive about our own research
  • Fundamental philosophical issues
    • Ontology: does reality exist out there?
    • Epistemology: how can we know?
    • Paradigms, Positions, Discourses,
    Naïve Realism Extreme Relativism
  • Fundamental philosophical issues
    • Generate feelings ranging from intellectual discomfort to inadequacy
    • Prompt bitter, public arguments
      • Edwards, D., M. Ashmore and J. Potter (1995). Death and Furniture: the rhetoric, politics and theology of bottom line arguments against relativism . History of the Human Sciences 8(2): 25-49 .
    • Become the topic of investigation:
      • e.g Zammito, J. H. (2004). A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour . Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press
  • What is social construction?
    • “ Research from a social constructionist perspective is concerned with identifying the various ways of constructing social reality that are available in a culture, to explore the conditions of their use and to trace their implications for human experience and social practice.”
    • Willig (2001) p13 Introducing qualitative research in psychology. Adventures in theory and method (OUP)
  • What is social construction?
  • What is social construction?
  • What is social construction?
  • What is social construction?
  • What is social construction?
    • Issues with the extent of construction accepted:
      • Weak vs strong construction are applied to different notions of reality (truth – essence)
      • Extreme relativism is paralysing since no guide for action, not possible to distinguish ‘truth’
    • Too much attention to language displaces the subjects/objects of research
    • The social construction of social construction?
      • So many different flavours
      • Problematic notion of quality
  • Reflexivity
    • ‘ Reflexivity involves reflecting on the way in which research is carried out and understanding how the process of doing research shapes its outcomes.’ (Hardy et al, 2001)
    • ‘ the interpretation of interpretation’ (Alvesson & Skoldberg, 2000)
    • ‘ the ethnographer of the text’ (Woolgar, 1988)
  • Reflexivity: different forms
    • about method: within the accepted rules of the game being played
  • Reflexivity: different forms
    • about method: within the accepted rules of the game being played
    • about epistemology: broader consideration of our assumptions about the generation of knowledge
  • Reflexivity: different forms
    • about method: within the accepted rules of the game being played
    • about epistemology: broader consideration of our assumptions about the generation of knowledge
    • about discipline: concerning social and political limitations and ideological functions of our disciplines
    • (adapted from Cassell and Symon)
  • Reflexivity: risks
    • use as a rhetorical device in presenting research so as to “invite trust” in the findings (Hardy, Phillips et al. 2001, p534).
    • danger of “infinite regress” (Finlay 2002, p212)
      • it is always possible to reflect further on one’s reflections or to ask additional questions.
    • risk transferring the focus away from the subjects of research and onto the researcher
      • Knights (2006) suggests “the ‘other’ often being reduced to an instrumental resource for securing confirmation of the self” (p702).
  • Reflexivity Exercise
    • What are the dominant assumptions that have shaped/are shaping your PhD research?
    • Who has been key in shaping these assumptions?
    • What have you challenged/accepted/rejected so far?
    • How did you decide? When will you next review these decisions?