Chapter Four Interpretive Perspectives on Theory Development Copyright 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for reproduction or display. Historical Background In 1600s, enlightenment--approach to knowledge favored rationality and empirical data One reaction to enlightenment was German idealism--emphasis on
subjectivity (Kant) Mid-19th century, positivism Late 19th & early 20th century --neo-Kantians emphasized importance of understanding (verstehen) of the subjective life world (lebenswelt) Foundations of Interpretivism: Hermeneutics Began with study of sacred texts, but has since embraced wide range of literal and cultural texts
Associated with Hans-Georg Gadamer Text is now considered to be any human action, product, or expression that can be treated like a text Hermeneutic Analysis Consideration of text in light of Researchers theoretical
knowledge and information about type text Source of text (author) Situation in which text produced Tacking back and forth between theory & text Goal is embedded understanding, not scientific prediction and control
Contributions to Contemporary Interpretive Theory Emphasis on understanding rather than explanation, prediction, and control as goal of social analysis Meaning & subjective experience rather than universal laws and causal explanations Wide inclusion of actions and objects as texts (nonverbal, conversation, architecture)
Do not separate the knower and the known Foundations of Interpretivism: Phenomenology Transcendental phenomenology & social phenomenology share views that Knowledge is not in external experience but in individual consciousness Meaning is derived from potential for object or experience in a persons life (tree in backyard)
World experienced and meaning developed through language Transcendental Phenomenology Edmund Husserl emphasizes understanding that can be gained by transcending taken-forgranted bracketing out the life world (poche) or personal blinders (biases, history, values, etc.) of researcher, as well as
other aspects of situation to understand relation to object or phenomenon Social Phenomenology Alfred Schutz emphasizes intense study of life world through consideration of typifications in social interaction Typifications are interpretive constructs (schema?) that vary by culture, personality, relational
context Arranged into knowledge structures of social life Foundation of Interpretivism: Symbolic Interactionism George Herbert Meads Mind, Self, and Society (1934) delineates central concepts Human thought (mind) and social interaction (the self with others) serve to interpret the society in which we live Meaning arises out of interaction rather than
other way around People influenced by culture/social organization but also produce culture, society, & norms of conduct Symbolic Interactionism, cont. Social interaction can be understood through consideration of significant symbols (shared meaning)
significant others (influential in life) generalized other (concept of how others perceive you role taking (modeling behavior after the behavior of other) Interpretive Theory: Metatheoretical Commitments Ontology: Nominalist or more often social constructionist position that emphasizes ongoing construction
of social reality Epistemology: Subjective position that emphasizes situated and local knowledge from the actors point of view Metatheoretical Commitments, cont. Axiology: Belief that personal and professional values are a lens through which social phenomena are observed
Some interpretivists argue for bracketing (phenomenology; Weber) Most believe values aid researchers goal of understanding (though they should be addressed) Millers distinction for Function and Form General interpretivist theories Propose processes of social construction that can be discussed
across situational boundaries Grounded interpretivist theories Concentrate on local and emergent communication phenomenaspecific situations and contexts Structure and Function of General Interpretive Theories Strive to develop understanding of intersubjective processes of reality construction
Seek an understanding (not explanation) through a consideration of in-order-to motives Typically stated in abstract form to go across situations Criteria for evaluating Much the same as positivist theories Accuracy, Consistency, Scope, Parsimony. & Heurism Also Does theory provide depth of
understanding that goes beyond commonsense understandings? Structure and Function of Grounded Interpretive Theories Term grounded theory was developed by Glaser and Strauss Grounded theory is driven by empirical observation--it is grounded in data Grounded theory is produced in a
systematic way Grounded Interpretive Theories, cont. Theory development based on comparative analysis of multiple data sources (interviews, observations, past theory & research, media, etc.) Tends to be presented in narrative form
Evaluation of Grounded Theory (Table 4.1, p. 64) Both process and product are evaluated Criteria 1. Are concepts generated? 2. Are the concepts systematically related? 3. Are there conceptual linkages? Are categories well developed? Do they have conceptual density?
Evaluation of Grounded Theory (cont.) 4. Is much variation built into the theory? 5. Are the broader influences built into explanation? 6. Has process been taken into account? 7. Do the theoretical findings seem significant and to what extent?
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