Reflexive Methods

Luker is excited about Charles Ragin’s Boolen analysis as a potentially paradigm changing method. “To the extent that canonical methods aspire to be neutral, to simply measure what is “out there,” it looks as if social reality is revealing itself to the social analyst, shyly taking off its clothes to show the inner essence. With Boolean analysis, however, the analyst has to be much more up-front about what theories are being generated in a study, and about how his or her treatment of the data may be affecting the emerging theory.” (pp. 213-214). The way that Ragin’s Boolean analysis forces researchers to think about the way that their approach is affecting the results should lead to more thoughtful methodologies, and perhaps even new perspectives on research itself. This class has made it clear that not only do we need to be selective in ensuring that our methods are appropriate for answering the research question, but that the way that research is conducted also has an affect on the results. We must think about our research reflexively in order to question if there is an “out there” at all.

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