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Seminar: Epistemology and methodology in development research

The Open University

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 from 14:30 to 16:30 (GMT)

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General Admission 18 Feb 2018 Free  

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Epistemology and methodology in development research

Theo Papaioannou

Seminar Description

The second seminar in this series aims to allow doctoral students to develop a critical understanding of key epistemological principles in the social sciences and examine methodological problems in development research.

The seminar will explore competing epistemological schools of thought such as rationalism and empiricism as well as fundamental methodological problems such as those of explaining social reality in terms of either human action or social structure. This exploration will draw on contemporary debates of the philosophy of science.

The seminar also includes a practical exercise. Students will be asked to go through a piece of development research and identify its epistemological and methodological foundations. This exercise will be followed by a critical discussion in class.

At the end of the 2 hour seminar, students will be able to analyse key principles of the theory of knowledge in social sciences and will have a firm grounding of the methodological problems in development research.  

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain:

  • An overview of competing epistemological schools of thought in the social sciences and methodological problems in development research.
  • An ability to apply theories of knowledge and methodologies in development research.
  • A critical reflection on and engagement with key epistemological and methodological issues in international development

Seminar structure:

Three core readings and key questions for student preparation

One lecture (30 min) by the Seminar Convenor on epistemological approaches and methodological problems in development research.

Short reflections (5 min) by students debating a key question from the readings

Practical exercise for students (30 min) examining a piece of development research

Wider discussion

Evaluation of seminar

Assessment

There is no formal assessment for this seminar but students will be asked to evaluate their learning in relation to their PhD thematic areas at the end of the seminar.

Lecture by the Seminar Convenor

Epistemological Approaches and Methodological Problems in Social Sciences

Lecture

What is science? What is social science? How can we resolve the problem of experience and reason? How do we explain social reality? Is there a real dualism between methodological individualism and methodological collectivism? What is the problem of subjectivism and objectivism? How do we approach the fact/value distinction in social sciences? In this short lecture we will explore key approaches to epistemology and methodology. We will examine their relevance for development research. Bringing our focus to the present day, we will look critically at some of the key debates and challenges that face social scientific research.

Key Questions: How our knowledge of the world can be identified? Should our explanation of the social world be based on human actions or social structures? Is the division between methodological individualism and collectivism still relevant for development research? What is the difference between induction and deduction? Can we predict in development research? 

 

 

 

Core Readings

 

  • Rosenberg, A. (1988) Philosophy of Social Science (Boulder: Westview Press).
  • Popper, K. R. (1992) ‘From the Poverty of Historicism, The Unity of Method’ in J. O’Neill (ed.), Modes of Individualism and Collectivism (Vermont: Gregg Revivals).
  • Lukes, S. (1968) ‘Methodological Individualism Reconsidered’, British Journal of Sociology, 19, pp.119-29; reprinted in M. Martin and L.C. McIntyre, eds. Readings in the Philosophy of Social Sciences, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1994.

 

 

 

Wider Readings

 

  • Kuhn, T. S. (1970) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press).
  • Gewirth, A. (1992) ‘Subjectivism and Objectivism in the Social Sciences’ in J. O’Neill (ed.) Modes of Individualism and Collectivism (Hampshire: Gregg Revivals).
  • Casullo, A. (1992) ‘A Priori/A Posteriori’ in J. Dancy and E. Sosa (eds) A Companion to Epistemology (London: Blackwell).
  • Hayek, F. A. (1979) The Counter-Revolution of Science, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Liberty Press).
  • Popper, K. (1972) Objective Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
  • Popper, K. R. (1980) The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London: Hutchison).
  • May, T. (1993), Social Research: Issues, Methods, and Process, (Buckingham:OUP).

 

 

 

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When & Where


Library Seminar Room 2
The Open University
Walton Hall
MK7 6AA Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 from 14:30 to 16:30 (GMT)


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