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Re: Re: Radical Democracy and Research Methodology
by John Schostak, Enquiry Learning Unit
It seems an easy question but to answer it is very hard. There have been numerous cases where fabrication of data has been suspected - as for example the case of Sir Cyril Burt (see for example: http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/burtaffair.shtml). In the experimental sciences where variables can be rigorously controlled in a lab environment the usual approach is to verify by replication. In the everyday life contexts of study of the social sciences and humanities no such controllable conditions exist. However, in each case research can be drawn into public debate where issues of authenticity, validity, objectivity, meaningfulness etc can be addressed. The 'findings' of one research project can be set into debate with competing research 'findings'. Furthermore, deeper issues of the assumptions upon which research is based can be drawn into debate. What are the key assumptions, values, beliefs that are embedded in a given research paradigm. For example, in economics the classical views of the market are based upon a number of assumptions concerning how markets operate under conditions of perfect competition. None of these assumptions hold under the conditions of actually existing markets (see an alternative view of how to construct economics at: https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/85). Authenticity seems to me to involve making clear the assumptions and agendas that are implicit in the production of research. It includes asking who has carried out the research, who funded it and why? It includes asking who 'wins' and who 'loses' in relation to the personal, social and environmental impacts of the research. It's a difficult question and it's worth thinking more about it. It would be interesting to know what other views there are....
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