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24 APRIL 2016

The Stances of the Observer in Participant Observation

"The degree to which the researcher involves himself/herself in participation in the culture under study makes a difference in the quality and amount of data he/she will be able to collect. GOLD (1958) has provided a description of observer stances that extend Buford JUNKER's explanation of four theoretical stances for researchers conducting field observations. GOLD relates the four observation stances as follows:

At one extreme is the complete participant, who is a member of the group being studied and who conceals his/her researcher role from the group to avoid disrupting normal activity. The disadvantages of this stance are that the researcher may lack objectivity, the group members may feel distrustful of the researcher when the research role is revealed, and the ethics of the situation are questionable, since the group members are being deceived.

In the participant as observer stance, the researcher is a member of the group being studied, and the group is aware of the research activity. In this stance, the researcher is a participant in the group who is observing others and who is interested more in observing than in participating, as his/her participation is a given, since he/she is a member of the group. This role also has disadvantages, in that there is a trade off between the depth of the data revealed to the researcher and the level of confidentiality provided to the group for the information they provide.

The observer as participant stance enables the researcher to participate in the group activities as desired, yet the main role of the researcher in this stance is to collect data, and the group being studied is aware of the researcher's observation activities. In this stance, the researcher is an observer who is not a member of the group and who is interested in participating as a means for conducting better observation and, hence, generating more complete understanding of the group's activities. MERRIAM (1998) points out that, while the researcher may have access to many different people in this situation from whom he/she may obtain information, the group members control the level of information given. As ADLER and ADLER (1994, p.380) note, this 'peripheral membership role' enables the researcher to 'observe and interact closely enough with members to establish an insider's identity without participating in those activities constituting the core of group membership.'

The opposite extreme stance from the complete participant is the complete observer, in which the researcher is completely hidden from view while observing or when the researcher is in plain sight in a public setting, yet the public being studied is unaware of being observed. In either case, the observation in this stance is unobtrusive and unknown to participants. [21]"

(Barbara B. Kawulich, 2005)

Kawulich, B. (2005). 'Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method'. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/466/996

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TAGS

2005 • Barbara Kawulich • Buford Junker • complete observer stance • complete participant stance • confidentiality • data collection method • data collection techniquesdeceptiondistrustfield methods • field observation • field research • field researcher • group membershipobjectivity • observation stances • observer as participant stance • observer stances • participant as observer stance • participant observation • Patricia Adler • peripheral membership role • Peter Adler • qualitative research • questionable ethics • Raymond Gold • researcher • researcher role • Sharan Merriam • sociological field observation • theoretical stances for researchers • typology of the participant observer roles

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 MARCH 2015

Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space

"A gallery is constructed along laws as rigorous as those for build­ing a medieval church. The outside world must not come in, so windows are usually sealed off. Walls are painted white. The ceil­ing becomes the source of light. The wooden floor is polished so that you click along clinically, or carpeted so that you pad soundlessly, resting the feet while the eyes have at the wall. The art is free, as the saying used to go, 'to take on its own life.' The discreet desk may be the only piece of furniture. In this context a standing ashtray becomes almost a sacred object, just as the firehose in a modern museum looks not like a firehose but an esthetic conundrum. Modernism's transposition of perception from life to formal values is complete. This, of course, is one of modernism's fatal diseases."

(Brian O'Doherty, 1986)

Brian O'Doherty (1986). "Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space", The Lapis Press.

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TAGS

1976 • aesthetic conundrum • art is free • artistic modernism • Brian O Doherty • clean design • clean white box • design formalismform and function • formal values • functional formgallery spacesideology of the gallery spaceinterior architecturemedieval church • modern museum • modernist aestheticsmodernist design principlesmorphology • neutral gallery space • neutral space • neutral white box • non-placeobjectivity • painted white • polished wooden floor • programmed useregulationsacred spacessingle-minded spacesspatial configurationspatial literacy • structural features • symbolic place • symbolic structures • Thomas McEvilley • transposition of perception • tyranny of modernism • tyranny of modernist aesthetics • white box • white cube • white wa

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 JULY 2014

Substance Dualism, Property Dualism and Mind-Body Dualism

"Consider the following three Cartesian theses:

Substance dualism: Any substance with mental properties lacks material properties and any substance with material properties lacks mental properties.

Property dualism: Mental properties and material properties are different properties.

Real distinction between mind and body: The mind and the body are numerically distinct substances.

How are these theses logically related? Substance dualism is the strongest of the three, and entails the other two. It entails the real distinction between mind and body. For the mind is a substance with mental properties, and the body is a substance with material properties. Now if the mind lacks material properties, and the body lacks mental properties, then the mind and the body cannot be the same substance. But the real distinction between mind and body does not entail substance dualism. For that mind and body are two numerically distinct substances is compatible with both of them having both mental and material properties.

Substance dualism also entails property dualism. For if a substance with mental properties lacks material properties, then mental and material properties are different properties–otherwise, a substance with mental properties would be a substance with material properties. But property dualism does not entail substance dualism. It could be that mental properties and material properties are different properties and yet a substance with mental properties is also a substance with material properties.

But the real distinction between mind and body and property dualism do not entail each other. It could be that mind and body are numerically distinct substances but mental and material properties are the same. For instance, it could be that mind and body are distinct because they have different properties: the mind has a property M that the body lacks, and the body has a property B that the mind lacks. This does not preclude that both M and B are both mental and material properties. So the real distinction between mind and body does not entail property dualism. Nor does property dualism entail the real distinction between mind and body. For even if mental and material properties are different properties, it can still be the case that the mind, which has mental properties, and the body, which has material properties, are the same substance."

(Gonzalo Rodriguez–Pereyra, pp.70–71)

Rodriguez–Pereyra, G. (2008). "Descartes's Substance Dualism and His Independence Conception of Substance". Journal of the History of Philosophy 46(1): 69–90.
Fig.1 Lucy Jones "Philosophy of the Mind Episode Two: Criticisms of Substance Dualism", YouTube.

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TAGS

bodyCartesian dualismcognitionconsciousnessdefining features of modernitydifferentiationdistinctionsdualism • epiphenomenalism • Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra • introspectionlogical-analytical paradigmmaterial environmentmaterial object • material properties • material realitymaterial space • material substances • material thinkingmaterial world • mental properties • mental substance • mindmind-body dualism • mind-body problem • minds divorced of bodiesobjective knowledgeobjective realityobjectivity • other minds • parallelism • philosophical position • philosophy of mind • physical worldproperties of nature • property dualism • realm of existenceRene Descartesscientifically established objective facts • separability argument • separate thinking • solipsism • soul • subject-object orientated philosophy • subjectificationsubjective conditionsubjectivismsubjectivity • substance dualism

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
05 JANUARY 2013

Epistemological Positions in Design Research

"The significance of acknowledging the differences between the aspects of these epistemologies is twofold; first it connects the theory of research to the practice of research and reveals the limits of truth claims in terms of objectivity, validity and generalisability. Second, Crotty's model emphasizes the necessity of remaining epistemologically consistent. Objectivist research must distinguish scientifically established objective facts from people's everyday subjective meanings. In turn, consistently constructionist research must place all meanings, scientific and non–scientific on an equal basis – they are all constructions, and none is truly objective or generalisable [sic]. The further one moves towards subjectivism, the greater the limits of the objectivity, validity and generalisablity of one's truth claims (Seale 1999). Being epistemologically aware requires that at each point in the research process we recognize that we make a variety of assumptions about human knowledge, the realities encountered in the human world and the interpretability of our findings."

(Luke Feast and Gavin Melles, 2010)

Feast, L. and G. Melles (2010). "Epistemological Positions in Design Research: A Brief Review of the Literature". Connected 2010 – 2nd International Conference on Design Education Sydney, Australia, University of New South Wales.

"Point of View" by Christopher Hassler [http://500px.com/photo/6984247]

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TAGS

2010academic communityassumptions • Charles Owen • Christopher Frayling • Clive Seale • constructionism • constructionist research • creative practice • Daniela Buchler • design educationdesign research • epistemological consistency • epistemological positions • epistemologies • epistemologyfindings • Fiona Candlin • Gavin Mellesgeneralisability • human knowledge • International Conference on Design Education • interpretability • Kees DorstKen Friedmanknowledge constructions • limits of objectivity • limits of truth claims • Luke Feast • Michael BiggsMichael CrottyNigel Cross • non-scientific meanings • objective • objectivist research • objectivity • practice of research • realitiesreview of literature • Roy Prentice • scholarly researchscientific methodscientifically established objective factssubjectivism • theory of research • truth claimsUniversity of New South Walesvalidity

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 JULY 2012

Michael Polanyi and tacit knowledge

"Central to Michael Polanyi's thinking was the belief that creative acts (especially acts of discovery) are shot–through or charged with strong personal feelings and commitments (hence the title of his most famous work Personal Knowledge). Arguing against the then dominant position that science was somehow value–free, Michael Polanyi sought to bring into creative tension a concern with reasoned and critical interrogation with other, more 'tacit', forms of knowing.

Polanyi's argument was that the informed guesses, hunches and imaginings that are part of exploratory acts are motivated by what he describes as 'passions'. They might well be aimed at discovering 'truth', but they are not necessarily in a form that can be stated in propositional or formal terms. As Michael Polanyi (1967: 4) wrote in The Tacit Dimension, we should start from the fact that 'we can know more than we can tell'. He termed this pre–logical phase of knowing as 'tacit knowledge'. Tacit knowledge comprises a range of conceptual and sensory information and images that can be brought to bear in an attempt to make sense of something (see Hodgkin 1991). Many bits of tacit knowledge can be brought together to help form a new model or theory. This inevitably led him to explore connoisseurship and the process of discovery (rather than with the validation or refutation of theories and models – in contrast with Popper, for example)."

(Mark K. Smith 2003, infed.org)

Smith, M. K. (2003) 'Michael Polanyi and tacit knowledge', the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/polanyi.htm.

Hodgkin, R. (1991) 'Michael Polanyi – Prophet of life, the universe and everything' Times Higher Educational Supplement, September 27, page 15.

Polanyi, Michael (1967) The Tacit Dimension, New York: Anchor Books. (108 + xi pages). Based on the 1962 Terry lectures (Yale) this book provides an overview of tacit knowledge. He looks at tacit knowing, emergence and the significance of a society of explorers.

TAGS

acts of discovery • connoisseurship • creative acts • critical analysisdiscovery process • exploratory acts • formal logic • hunchesimaginingsinductive reasoning • infed.org • informed guess • Karl Popperlogical-analytical paradigm • Mark Smith • Michael Polanyiobjectivity • passions • personal commitments • personal feelings • Personal Knowledge (book) • pre-logical phase of knowing • propositional logic • reasoned interrogation • reasoning • refutation • Robin Hodgkin • sensemakingtacit • tacit forms of knowing • tacit knowledge • The Tacit Dimension (book) • theories and models • theory building • theory validation • truth • value-free science • we can know more than we can te

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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