Culture and Societal Change: Methodologies

I would concur with the idea raised at our recent meeting that a defining feature of this theme could encompass some specific forms of methodology underpinning epistemology  relevant to the social sciences and humanities. I would suggest that ethnography and its variants are a key form of methodology commonly used by a number of interested members of our emerging group; in addition to case studies, narrative and oral history methodologies. I’m sure there would be a number of other methodologies that colleagues might wish to suggest as well, including quantitative methods commonly used in the social sciences, for example. Although precisely how to define these as distinctive to this theme, as opposed to others, may be more of a challenge. Perhaps here the ‘naturalistic’ social context of any epistemological undertaking, as opposed to the more ‘controlled’ positivistic context might be one way forward.

Sara Crabtree

2 Responses to “Culture and Societal Change: Methodologies”

  1. Edwin van Teijlingen

    Methods & Methodologies in the Social Sciences
    Dear Sara, I’m not sure which group you are referring in your blog where you state: ‘by a number of interested members of our emerging group’. My experience is that the whole range of social science research methods has a place in applied disciplines such as the ones we operate in. BU has an excellent Centre for Qualitative Research, but as you say quantitative methods also have a key role to play. In our disciplines it is more about how best to address the overarching research question than maintaining the methodological purity of the method.
    Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, Wellbeing & Public Health, HSC, Bournemouth University

  2. Sara Crabtree

    Dear Edwin, just to clarify, I was merely referring to those colleagues who attended the meeting last week called by Barry Richards – and those people within Society & Social Welfare feeding into Culture & Social Change (sorry if this seemed unclear) – to discuss and develop this theme. At that time it was suggested that methodological aspects are one means of defining this particular theme where there might otherwise be conspicuous overlaps with others. I am certainly not disputing that social sciences have an important contribution to make to applied disciplines. However, my understanding is that at the moment we need to consider what makes this BU theme distinctive and therefore relevant to those of us at BU, unless we are happy to see this it collapsed into others – which may of course yet be the case. To me, social sciences offer unique methodological opportunities to study phenomena in naturalistic contexts, as opposed to artificial ones typical of the ‘hard’ sciences, for example. Thus, methodological issues may possibly represent one useful strand to consider at this junction in the challenging work towards a clearer definition.