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Ringing a cross-disciplinary bell

At yesterday’s academic seminar, Ted Warburton talked about “crossing disciplines”, and used sociology as an illustration. Some of it kind of passed me by (“epistemic reflexivity”, huh?), but there was one section, on research foci, that chimed a massive chord with me. Warburton divided sociological research into four areas: why people dance, how they dance, where they dance and what they dance.

Now, read any book on journalism, and somewhere near the beginning it will tell you that your story – whatever story – needs to address most if not all of the following questions: who, what, where, when, how, why. Without them, you have no story.

Just thought I’d lob that thought in.

3 comments to Ringing a cross-disciplinary bell

  • Ted

    Epistemic reflexivity concerns the researcher’s or teacher’s belief system and allows for the examination and testing of assumptions. This critical stance gives way to understanding, theory, and change. It is the very assumptions that may have been hidden before any reflexive action that are at issue. It is a means to study personal beliefs and assumptions embedded in our thinking (our ‘academic habitus’) as we embark on research.

    Looking deeper, it can be suggested that, “epistemic reflexivity is the constant analysis of your lived experience as well as your own theoretical and methodological presuppositions” (Coghlan & Brannick, 2005, p. 62).

    or put another way

    “Epistemological reflexivity requires us to engage with questions such as: How has the research question defined and limited what can be ‘found?’ Thus, epistemological reflexivity encourages us to reflect upon the assumptions (about the world, about knowledge) that we have made in the course of the research, and it helps us to think about the implications of such assumptions for the research and its findings. How has the design of the study and the method of analysis ‘constructed’ the data and the findings? How could the research question have been investigated differently? To what extent would this have given rise to a different understanding of the phenomenon under investigation?” (Nightingale and Cromby, 1999, p. 228)

    Probably more information than we needed … but there it is.

  • Angela Woodhouse

    Hello Sanjoy – it was good to meet you at the reception.

    I have been away and am now catching up with the activity of Artscross. I am in agreement about these elements of story or narrative that of course stretch back to antiquity and are applicable to all art forms, but I am also considering another dimension which is that the narrative is formed by the actions of the viewer and therefore this positioning from within undermines the distance one assumes to the artwork that might be presupposed in the ‘who, what, how, when, and where’.

    I enjoy Ted’s clarification here and consider the critical distance of own’s own actions an imperative while also acknowledging the impossibility of escaping from oneself.

  • Sanjoy Roy

    Hi Angela, thanks for your comment. I think the term “story” already has implicit the idea that the narrative is made by the writer rather than simply “seen”. I guess the next thing that a journalist textbook would say, after the who-what-where etc questions, is: “what is your angle?” Which more explicitly positions the writer within the process.

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