Remodeling Human Social Research - Ethknoworks, UMD


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at Qualitative360 North America 2014
1-3 April 2014, Toronto, Canada

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Remodeling Human Social Research - Ethknoworks, UMD

  1. 1. APRIL 1-3, 2014 TORONTO
  2. 2. APRIL 1-3, 2014 TORONTO Organized by Workshop Sponsors Association & Media Partners
  3. 3. Remodeling Human Social Research! Beyond the Heartbreak of Qual/Quant! ! Michael Agar! Qual360 Workshop! Toronto, April 1, 2014!
  4. 4. So how does this anecdotal stuff work?! ! often said with a slight curl of the lip!
  5. 5. Human Social Research • Participant Observation • Rich Points • Coherence Assumption • Learn and Modify • New Perspective • Translate • Culture?
  6. 6. Rich Points within and between • Incomprehensible • Contradiction • Depart from Expectation • Repetition • New/Old Information • High Arousal Theory of Noticing
  7. 7. Sail Around The Rich Point • Compare • Look for replication • Note the variation • Seek the contradictions • Results = pattern, not variable • Dialectic learning
  8. 8. Massive Overdetermination of Pattern (MOPS) • Houses and Cars • Puzzle-Solving • Maximize Differences (weird sampling) • Constraint Satisfaction Technique (weird analysis)
  9. 9. Funnels and Data Ethno int Part obs Struc data Prof lit Pop lit Paper trails Archives Anything, from anyplace, relevant to problem
  10. 10. Courtroom rather than Lab From Stephen Toulmin " ! But still evidence organized by some logic! capable of challenge! In other words, Science!
  11. 11. There is a real world! ! But Humans interpret it ! ! In contexts of social influence! ! In ways of which they are not necessarily aware! ! And those interpretations influence! ! What they do next! ! So how do you learn how they do it?!
  12. 12. Context/Meaning Some details, part one!
  13. 13. The Meaning Question Within a specific event, I ask: Did that sign X, which I assume signifies Y, also signify Y to Z? Or did X even signify anything at all to Z? Often the most important question will be asked and answered for you, with a clear no.
  14. 14. The Context Question Within a specific event, I ask: Does sign X have any co-occurrence relations with other signs Y1…Yn within event dimensions as bound by particular study parameters? But context is much more complicated than that. It’s layered. In general, it is about patterns vs variables
  15. 15. ! ! ! ! ! But it’s not all differences! Maybe not even mostly differences! What about the psychic unity part! What about human universals! What about a theory of what it means to be human?! Redfield’s mantra! ! !
  16. 16. The Language Learning Metaphor • Learning new meanings and contexts • One metaphor for HSR is second language learning • Only I need to shift to second languaculture learning • LC2 instead of L2 • LC2 is a surface of POV2 • Whorf-Sapir redux
  17. 17. The Translation Metaphor •  The goal of HSR is to translate meanings and contexts between two or more POVs •  “Translate” here means showing how social action from one point of view makes sense from another •  Avoid the moral relativity trap. This is about meaning-making across semiotic differences, not moral evaluation •  Making sense of human differences in terms of human similarities
  18. 18. It’s neither objective nor subjective! ! It’s an intersubjective science! ! You’re part of the data! ! You’re the learner and translator!
  19. 19. What about the logic to make the case?! Some details, part two!
  20. 20. We need more than deducation and induction Pierce’s Abduction The surprising fact, F, is observed If H were true, F would be a matter of course Hence, there is reason to suspect that H is true Valid if consequences capable of test through experimentation and F follows as a necessary conclusion Mode of perception an ordered set of contexts H a function of historically available contexts !
  21. 21. Your IRA •  HSR rests on an iterative, recursive abductive logic, IRA for short •  It isn’t the only kind of logic used in HSR, but as far as social research goes, only in HSR is it officially used •  Unofficially it’s used all over the place •  It is a regular feature of some professions besides ethnography, like journalists, historians, intelligence analysts, detectives, computer science, … •  And actual science practice
  22. 22. IRA Marginality • IRA logic doesn’t fit experimental control, traditional research design, or long-range goals. • Not a recipe for getting from A to B, but a way to start and a strategy for change en camino • It can, in fact, be destructive or dysfunctional or at least inappropriate • It is also an engine of creativity and innovation and, in social research, of new theory and new programs.
  23. 23. A Learning Logic Like the Moliere character who discovered that he’d been speaking in prose all his life, we’ve all been using IRA since we were little kids. IRA is how you learn new ideas based on experience.
  24. 24. If it doesn’t have IRA in it, it isn’t in the HSR space. Rich points inspire questions about context and meaning. The questions about context and meaning force the differences in POVs to emerge. IRA is the process of figuring out how to translate them, first for you, second for your audience
  25. 25. The similarities are about a pragmatic epistemology, not about theory or method or data! What are those similarities among all those projects? The answer is, they all use the same way of learning and representing the results!
  26. 26. Here’s a second thing those pictures share. The same images of work in the opening slides also make disciplines disappear!
  27. 27. That’s the second problem I like to work on! Call it a transdisciplinary epistemology! Because interdisciplinary is still about discipline,! And the practical epistemology in not!
  28. 28. The phenomena are what make it different! based on diverse evidence organized by logic in a way capable of challenge based on other evidence, like any science! It’s a different kind! of science! intersubjective! self-referential! dynamic! emergent! A Pragmatic Transdisciplinary Epistemology?!?!! We have met the phenomenon and it is us!
  29. 29. Brentano and Dilthey!
  30. 30. • First person psychology! • Intentionality--beliefs, desires, emotions, purposes! • Lived experience! • History! Not your grandfather s human social science! Other traditions! a different kind of phenomenon" a diffferent kind of science"
  31. 31. The Learn Dynamically Part! • Rich points and IRA logic and context/meaning questions and nonlinear dynamic epistemology! • Interesting that people love rich points, get IRA, but have more trouble with C/M questions! • The heartbreak of naïve realism.! • Adjustable for time, depth and breadth!
  32. 32. Knowledge and Human Interests! •  Researcher as subject, research as human social world! •  Tales of drugworld and waterworld! •  The danger: Can we talk about me for awhile? ! •  One way or another, the researcher and the research are part of the data! •  This part of the epistemology is neglected in this webinar!
  33. 33. The Leverage Part?! • Donella Meadows, 1997! • Limits to Growth! • Turning a freighter! •  A small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything. ! • Leverage points!
  34. 34. ! ! ! Indicator based problem! ! Locate actual tasks that those indicators are meant to measure! ! Do fieldwork in those tasks using rich points, context/ meaning questions and IRA logic! ! Rich points lead to leverage points! ! Find positive deviance! ! Loop back to top, probably with better indicators! The Court Project Example!
  35. 35. And try strategy out! ! But encourage contiual experimentation, variations and! modifications on the part of those involved in the task! ! Much of this from complexity org dev work! !
  36. 36. Spinning in his grave! •  Non-monotonic but logical?! •  Non-experimental but empirical?! •  Non-quantitative but mathematical?! •  Non-materialistic but understandable?! •  Non-linear but formalizable?! •  Bollocks!!!!
  37. 37. Jazz Maybe?! Human social science is just catching up with the concept.! It isn’t about playing a certain kind of music. It’s about playing any kind of music in a certain way. That “certain way” is what a practical transdisciplinary epistemology is about.!
  38. 38. Hope it was useful! ! Michael Agar!!! @alcaldemike! !
  39. 39. APRIL 1-3, 2014 TORONTO Organized by Workshop Sponsors Association & Media Partners
  40. 40. APRIL 1-3, 2014 TORONTO