Friday, September 24, 2010

Notable Names/Quotes from Last Week's Lecture

A student in INF1240 has asked me to make available a more comprehensive list of the names, concepts and quotes that I used in last week's lecture. Not that you are in any way expected to write these down or memorize them in any way - the additional info I give in lectures is always supplementary, aimed at helping to contextualize the readings and inspire new trajectories in your own, individual readings and research proposal development...That said, if you were especially inspired or interested by some of the topics discussed last week, which weren't included in the slides, you can use these as bread crumbs to get you started down the right path:
  • Paradigms: I used Todd Gitlin’s (1978) definition of paradigm as “a tendency of thought” that identifies certain areas of social and cultural exploration as important, prescribes a certain methodology as appropriate or even most effective, and thereby frames results of studies conducted using this methodology as holding legitimate explanatory power. (from "Media sociology: the dominant paradigm" Theory and Society journal).
  • Another definition that you might want to use instead is Thomas Kuhn's (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolution - which talks specifically about paradigm shifts.
  • Around the time that Durkheim was advancing his ideas about using positivism to study social phenomena, various other theorists and Schools were arguing for positivist/empirical approaches to investigations of the social, including the Vienna Circle Philosophers and Wittgenstein.
  •  Alfred Binet - often credited as having produced the first widely-used standardized intelligence (IQ) test.
  • I used J.B. Watson's behaviourist psychology as an example of extreme positivism in social research. If you want to find out more about him, there's an interesting critique of Watson written by Professor Christopher D. Green (York U), which you can read here. The Watson quote that I read to you was that measurements of human behaviour should be restricted to "objective facts consisting of movements of a person’s body or any part of it..." - but I'm not sure if this is a direct quote or paraphrased, I wrote it down so long ago (eep!)
  •  The source for Anthony Giddens' overview of the key philosophical ideas out of which positivism (in social sciences) emerged is Giddens, A. (1978). Positivism and its critics. In T.B. Bottomore and R.A. Nisbet (eds.) A History of Sociological Analysis [pp.237-86]. London: Basic Books.
  • The source I described as embodying many of the thoughts and theories of The Chicago School is Robert E. Park’s (1915) essay "The City." He re-wrote (and revised) this essay in 1925, in collaboration with some of his colleagues (Burgess and McKenzie, with Wirth), published by The University of Chicago Press.
  • In terms of important names in media/audience research (not addressed by Luker in her history of social research), people to look up include Gallup (of Gallup poll fame) and Nielsen, Paul Lazarsfeld (various publications), Elihu Katz, George Gerbner. 
  • The Frankfurt School is another key player here that Luker doesn't mention. If you need an introduction to the Frankfurt School, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's (1944) Dialectic of Enlightenment is the place to start. You can read most of a chapter here.
  • I talked about one of the founders of ethnography, Bronislaw Malinowski, whose aim was to “grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world,” a direct quote from page 25 of his 1922 book Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London: Routledge.
  • Some key concepts within this discussion were: "ontological and epistemological realism" and "interpretativism."
  • Interpretativism meets the Chicago School in the works of John Dewey (and George Herbert Mead (for example). In Mead's 1934 Mind, Self and Society he begins to develop a concept of social psychology that was later named "symbolic interactionism" by Chicago School member Herbert Blumer (1937) - this is the idea of self as constituted in continuous communicative action, for instance in anticipation of the response of the Other, etc. 
  • Erving Goffman is a key theorist within this "ethnographic turn" paradigm  - I talked a little about theories he develops in (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.


  • I highlighted the emergence of cultural studies - particularly in the UK - as inspired by the ethnographic turn, but also as an eventual point of contention within this particular "paradigm" (post-Foucauldian influence  focus on constructivism, power, etc.). Notable ethnographic researchers belonging to the "cultural studies" movement (which otherwise includes notables such as Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart, etc.) include Paul Willis, Angela McRobbie, Dick Hebdige (though I don't think I mentioned them in class).
  • A key example of the concurrent shift within anthropology, i.e. growing questioning of the validity of "ontological and epistemological realism" (that idea that it is ever possible for a scholar to reach a truthful understanding of a culture based on description and interpretation), and the elaboration and deepening of the idea of ethnography as "interpretation of interpretation" is Clifford Geertz. He argued that “anthropological writings are themselves interpretations, and second and third order ones to boot” (p.15 in 1973 The Interpretation of Cultures). The chapter that I highly recommended in class was: Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight
I think that's it. If there was something else that I mentioned that you'd like to know more about (or just get a source for) just let me know!

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