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SOCI 2702 (3)

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SOCI 2702
Charles Gibney

Power and Everyday PracticesChapter 3Assembling our Tool Kit Interrogating Representations and DiscoursesOften we dont notice that we are making assumptions because they are completely embedded in the way that we understand the world What Counts as Knowledge Who is in the centre who is in the margins and what strategies are used to create a divide between the centre and the marginsThe study of what constitutes knowledge and how we come to know things is part of a branch of philosophy called epistemology Epistemological perspectives tell us about counts as evidence what criteria need to be met in order to develop new knowledge and how knowledge is related to morals or values With the Enlightenment scientific investigation gained prominence as the dominant way of knowingThe Enlightenment was characterized by an emphasis on rational thought and experimentation as a means of discovering the natural laws that governed the world During the Enlightenment period positivism became the dominant epistemological approachThis approach emphasises the systematic collection of information using the five human senses and then grouping these observations together to generate new knowledge The rise of positivism was related to modernist ideas about the value of using scientific rational and secular techniques to systematically create a better society Positivist approaches are typically reflected in quantitative approaches to researchQuantitative researchers typically strive to quantify or precisely measure the phenomenon they are investigative so they can make statistical claimsPositivists generally adopt a realist perspective that is they believe in a single reality that exists independent of society and that is governed by unchanging natural lawsPositivists also strive to be objective or valuefree in their work arguing that any person doing the same researchThe practice of science is also influenced by power relations Some social scientists are critical of positivist approaches and instead take an epistemological position known as interpretivismInterpretivism is based on the idea that studying people is not the same as studying elements of the natural world because people interpret and respond to their environment in different ways and then act on these interpretations For interpretivists the goal of social science research is to find out how peoples varying understanding of the world affects how they behaveSocial constructionists believe that what we understand as reality is constructed by our culture
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