Linking Concept with Analysis, Revisited

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Final yr, I wrote in regards to the connections between idea and analysis. It’s very tempting for the first-time scholar researcher to give you a analysis matter and both ignore theories in regards to the matter, or have problem integrating theories with their analysis query or their findings. Theories could appear summary and generally tough to understand, whereas analysis is concrete and its outcomes generally simpler to digest. Connecting the 2 takes observe.

In final yr’s publish, I famous:

Theories inform the researcher earlier than a research is undertaken in addition to the reader earlier than studying of the writer’s findings. Theories present a context inside which the analysis will be understood…. we’d think about [research]…. a part of an ongoing theoretical dialog.

As a system of concepts, theories are created in dialog with analysis. Which means that idea helps the researcher formulate their analysis query, the guiding query {that a} researcher desires to reply. Likewise, idea is modified and particulars are added after the findings of analysis are analyzed.

Analysis will be time consuming—and costly—so earlier than getting began it is smart to see if anybody else has requested the identical query, what the reply(s) to that query was, and the way their findings formed the theoretical dialog. That is how we accumulate information as a self-discipline: we share our findings and contribute these findings to the theoretical conversations happening.

I not too long ago wrote about Josh Seim’s ethnographic analysis on ambulance staff in his ebook Bandage, Kind, and Hustle, which does a superb job of connecting idea along with his analysis. Seim focuses fairly a bit on populations in poverty, and he describes how the ambulance is partly a mechanism of social management, often used to take away individuals thought-about disruptive from public areas. His work is knowledgeable by sociologist Loïc Wacquant’s macro-level dialogue of the position of the state as each punitive and protecting (see pages 14-15 of Bandage, Kind, and Hustle for the entire dialogue).

Whereas Seim lays out Wacquant’s concepts and attracts connections along with his personal, he mentions an vital distinction between his findings and Wacquant’s:

This type of framework tends to direct our consideration away from the entrance strains. It glosses over the face-to-face interactions between struggling populations and the employees they work together with in welfare workplaces, courtrooms, homeless shelters, group clinics, and associated areas. Certainly, individuals are not passively arrested, hospitalized, or fed by the insurance policies of an ambidextrous state. Others actively arrest, hospitalize, and feed them. Individuals on the entrance strains do the precise labor of classifying, helping, and punishing topics, be they sufferers, inmates, or another human class to be processed (p. 15).

Right here, Seim isn’t saying that Wacquant is “mistaken”—he’s saying that there’s a lacking piece of the puzzle, which Seim’s analysis uncovers. By including this extra micro-level piece to Wacquant’s macro-level evaluation, we get a fuller image of the method by which disempowered individuals encounter establishments, comparable to well being care and legislation enforcement.

Seim goes on to focus on the work of different ethnographers who have a look at the micro-level interactions between staff and establishments to attract connections along with his personal. He observes: “Research on this vein are inclined to neglect the intricate forces that affect frontline labor from above,” and his analysis goals to fill these gaps (p. 16).

By his assessment of the analysis of others and examination of idea, Seim proposes a theoretical idea of his personal, that “the frontline regulation of city struggling [is] a labor course of (p. 17).” He connects this theoretical idea to Marx’s dialogue of labor and manufacturing, persevering with a centuries-old dialog about work and inequalities.

By connecting the dots between traditional and modern idea, the analysis of others, and his personal analysis, Seim’s work encapsulates the best way that information is produced and concepts are grounded in empirical observations. He begins by changing into aware of the work of others to see what they’ve realized, after which he explores how his research can additional inform their findings to broaden how we perceive what he describes as “frontline governance of city struggling” (p. 18).

Connecting idea and analysis isn’t at all times straightforward for brand new researchers, however it’s important for understanding sociological phenomenon extra deeply.

For extra on how Josh Seim’s ebook connects idea along with his analysis, hearken to the podcast right here:

Josh Seim Concept and Analysis


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