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Miss lovely legs exercise: Understanding Different Logics of Enquiry


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This is an exercise for the course "Methodology for Urbanism" at the Urbanism Master Track at the TU Delft. This exercise is based on STAINTON-ROGERS, W. (2006), Logics of Enquiry, in Doing Postgraduate Research , Ed. Stephen Potter, London: Sage. The aim of this exercise is to clarify how different communities of practice conceive knowledge (and relevant knowledge, for that matter), discourses, questions and methodologies to answer those questions.

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Miss lovely legs exercise: Understanding Different Logics of Enquiry

  1. 1. Miss Lovely Legs Understanding Different Logics of Enquiry urbanism SpatialPlanning &Strategy AR2U090 Methodology for Urbanism Prepared by Roberto Rocco
  2. 2. Miss Lovely Legs: Understanding Different Logis of Enquiry Exercise for AR2U090 Methodology for Urbanism based on an exercise by STAINTON-ROGERS, W. (2006), Log- ics of Enquiry, in Doing Postgraduate Research , Ed. Stephen Potter, London: Sage. In this exercise, you will need to discuss what is possible to deprehend (to see and understand) from an im- age. Based on what you see, what kinds of knowledge can you formulate? What are questions that can help us understand this picture and how can we describe what we see in a mean- inful way? Look at the picture below and discuss. What can you see? Who are the people in this picture? Where are they? What is the meaning of the event? Picture by David Goldblatt available at
  3. 3. Now read the following texts written about the photography and decide which one comes closest to the knowledge gained previously? What are other insights you can have by reading these commentaries? Last night, Charmaine du Preez was crowned MissLovelyLegsNoksburgfor1974.Charmaine is a 2nd year student at Sukses secretarial Col- lege and says her hobbies are reading, watch- ing films and [going to] the gym. Charmaine said the she was thrilled that the judges chose her out of so many deserving competitors and would try her utmost to live up to everything expected of her during her reign. (Staff reporter, Boksburg Times) Although one does not want to further deni- grate the participants in such contests, nor as- cribe personally malign motives to those who consume those images, the political implica- tions of such ‘cattle parades’ are inescapable: women are turned into objects in a male-dom- inated world. Such practices are the visible manifestations of an all-pervasive patriarchal culture. (Patsy Smith-Collins, International Journal of Fem- inist Studies) In this photograph, Goldblatt again explores the semiotic (and now perhaps even nostalgic?) possibilities of 1970s suburbia, so fetching- ly oblivious of the larger political forces play- ing themselves out in the context of apartheid South Africa. The careful juxtaposition of the foregrounded white contestants and the pre- dominantly black audience plays with the irony of the white culture as an object of black con- sumption. (Mandla Nkosi, Art World)
  4. 4. Now discuss in groups: 1. What are the professional activities of the writers? From which “point of view” do they see the photograph? 2. Is there a “correct assessment” of the im- age? 3. Can you describe the different logics of enquiry playing a role here? (You can think in terms of different “points of view” and the knowledge necessary in each community of practice). 4. What are relevant questions being asked by the different writers? Write at least one ques- tion that is being answered by the reporter, the feminist and the art critic. Notes: In this exercise, we try to demonstrate that logics of enquiry do no depend only on the OBJECT being analysed. They depend on the QUESTIONS one is asking about the object and the type of knowledge one is seeking to build. In the first example, a reporter gives a factual account of the event. She writes about facts that can be verified and enriches the story by including a personal statement from the win- ner of the contest. It is difficult to say that the reporter is “neutral”, however, because the implicit position of the reporter is that such kind of contest is positive and glamor- ous, an opinion that others would strongly oppose. In the second example, the feminist writes a strong piece about how such contests de- grade and objectify women. The feminist is interested in the political meaning of such contests and in what they represent for the emancipation of women. The position here is that such contests are “cattle parades” and belittles their participants. In the third example, the art critic analyses the image from an aesthetic point of view and situates the image in its political and social context, the South African Apartheid. There is a discussion about the aesthetic merits of the 1970s suburb. He sarcastical- ly observes that white women seem to have become the object of consumption of black viewers, who are politically and economically oppressed. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that different logics of enquiry stem from different communities of practice building knowledge that is relevant for them and for their audiences. But another important point we want to make is that knowledge produced by dif- ferent communities of practice needs to be communicated across communities and audiences. Therefore, knowledge needs to be clearly formulated and articulated in a way that is understandable by others outside one’s community. This means that concepts and ideas must be explained in an accessible language. Finally, knowledge must be validat- ed across communities; otherwise one might suffer from the “Humpty Dumpty syndrome”. In Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Look- ing-Glass (1872), Humpty-Dumpty tells a mystified and perplexed Alice “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”. SpatialPlanning &Strategy