Elements Of Essence
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Open Journal Systems. Abstract Kaidzen as a system lays at the crossroads of accounting and management. It consists of elements that can be divided into groups: theoretical, methodical and structural. However, it involves more than just a different point of view upon which to base an historical account. This approach examines the historical genesis of a social system and show how oppressive structures have emerged.
It addresses how historical events relate to prevailing social practices and examines the extent to which prevailing structures are sustained through them. This approach is fairly common amongst feminist historians and is explored below in the work of Mumtaz and Shaheed and can also be seen in Mills' study of the power structure in the United States in the s.
It is worth noting here that an historicist perspective that declares a 'non-dominant' perspective informing the historical reconstruction is not in itself indicative of a piece of critical social research.
- Other Books By This Author.
- Made in China: Vivre avec les ouvrières chinoises (Monde en cours / Lère planétaire) (French Edition).
- A Bundle of Mirrors.
- Sonny Craigs Presuppositional Creationism and The Hypothetical Question: An Overview (A Quantum Theology: Presuppositional Creationism and The Hypothetical Question Book 1).
- Alicia en el pais de las Maravillas (Spanish Edition).
While this book is not intended to provide criteria for judging whether or not work qualifies as critical social research, it is intended as a guide to the many ways of doing such research. Without arbitrarily delimiting the scope of critical social research it seems not inconsistent to suggest that the process of critical social research requires more than an alternative perspective.
Providing a broader context within which to locate the history of an organisation is indicative of, but not sufficient for, a critical study. Providing a general framework merely situates the specific history, it is only critical if it relates the specific to the wider social structures. In short, a totalistic perspective rather than an holistic framework is required. Undertaking historical research is a process of detection. Non-interpretive views of history see this process of detection as akin to piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.
Interpretive views of history accept that pieces do not fit together into a pre-arranged picture but that each piece has to be interpreted as part of an overall picture. Historicists, in the main, have a fairly good idea of what they think the current picture is and interpret historical events in relation to this picture. The interpretive process of history involves the historian as active detective, seeking out clues, following trails and leads and gradually getting a feel of what is going on.
The critical social researcher applies detection not so much to solve a particular problem but to investigate the circumstances within which it occurred. To pursue the analogy, critical social research is not so much interested in who shot John Kennedy but in uncovering the conspiracy or lack of it that surrounds the event. Critical social research, of course, does not approach the past as though it were a conspiracy, nor however, does it see it simply as a series of events.
The critical approach to history locates events in their social and political contexts, addresses the economic constraints and engages taken-for-granted ideological factors. It does this not just by reference to the events but also requires the researcher to be reflexive, taking into account their own historical situation and perspective. So, like all aspects of critical social research, history is not just there waiting to be picked up and fitted into the critical historical account.
History has to be researched and critically evaluated as well. Within critical social research the reconstruction of history takes place alongside the structural analysis, it both informs and is informed by it. In practice, there may be a large list of concepts. It is not necessary to attempt a separate critical analysis of each. They are all interrelated and so the 'key' is to locate a central concept and critically analyse that.
From that, the other concepts can be reconstructed. Before addressing how the central concept is analysed it is important to note that the deconstructive-reconstructive process is not just abstract concept analysis tacked on to the usual idealised sequence of events in a research undertaking. Critical social research is not embodied in a series of discrete phases. It is not just abstract concept analysis followed by hypothesis generation, data collection, data analysis, and the generation of results, with the implications for theory added at the end.
Critical social research develops the different elements in parallel, each aspect informs each of the other aspects.
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So the abstract analysis, while the starting point, is integrally related to empirical enquiry, not something that stands apart from it. Conceptualisation, for the critical social researcher, is grounded in the material world. It is linked to practice. The deconstructive-reconstructive process, which is at the heart of dialectical analysis, involves a constant shuttling backwards and forwards between abstract concept and concrete data; between social totalities and particular phenomena; between current structures and historical development; between surface appearance and essence; between reflection and practice.
This works as follows. The researcher is concerned with a realm of enquiry, usually provoked by a particular question that demands attention, such as: why do some youngsters not make the most of the opportunity offered by the education system? Does the mass media manipulate the viewer? Should women get paid for housework?. These questions frame an area of enquiry. The first job is to explore its central concepts.
The selection of a central concept is not simple, but, as we shall see in the substantive examples, neither is it impossible. The whole point of critical research is that the researcher is prepared to abandon lines of thought that are not getting beneath surface appearances. It involves a constant questioning of the perspective and analysis that the researcher is building up. It is a process of gradually, and critically, coming to know through constant reconceptualisation.
This means that the selection of a core concept for analysis is not a once and for all affair. The researcher does not need to select the 'correct' core concept first time, nor is the concept initially selected to be adhered to throughout the analysis. The 'correct' core concept only emerges in the course of the ongoing analysis. It is only 'correct' in the sense that it provides, at any point in the critical analysis, the best focus for deconstructing and reconstructing the phenomenon in its socio-historic context.
The shuttling back and forth between the abstract and concrete, the unit and the structure, and so on, ensures that when the area of enquiry is taken apart, that this deconstructive process is not static. On the contrary, the deconstruction may prove to be unsatisfactory because the reconstructed system may not appear to work or to make sense.
Thus the deconstruction needs to be further developed, which in turn will lead to a new basis for a reconstruction. And so the process goes on until the reconstructed analysis is coherent. It is not the collection of data that is important, nor the garnering of information or facts, nor the interpretation of specific actions. Critical social research is about a fundamental understanding; about getting beyond the 'facts' and 'hypotheses' to a deep understanding of a substantive issue.
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So, what one has to do is decide on an initial core concept? Bear in mind that the selection is one that derives from constantly mediated thought: the assessment of potential abstract conceptualisations and their relation to concrete social processes. Examine how the concept has been used and then ask what the underlying assumptions are that informs this usage and how it relates to the general area of enquiry.
The relationship between the abstract core concept and the area of enquiry should be investigated both at the level of general abstractions and concrete empirical relations. Ask what appears to be going on at the abstract level and how this is manifest in concrete situations? To what extent is there some disjunction between the underlying presuppositions of the abstract concept and the nature of concrete reality? This involves widening the framework of the concrete investigation to consider related aspects.
Elements of Essence
Conventional social research encourages the funnelling of attention towards the examination of narrowly construed hypotheses. In 'good' conventional research this follows a wide acquaintance with available research and theoretical debate. Yet, it still focuses attention on specifics. Such an approach hinders the digging beneath the surface that is fundamental to critical social research.
Take housework. The conventional approach is to see it as a set of tasks. Delphy addressed it as unpaid domestic work. She showed that deconstructing housework in these terms did not work. Such an analysis failed to address the inconsistencies between work done in one's own home and work done in another's. Nor could it deal with the difference between work done at home that was regarded as economically accountable yet unpaid butchering a pig and work that was not cooking the pig.
A more useful deconstruction was to see housework as a relation of production. As work done for another family member. The exploitative nature of housework is thus reconstructable. The hidden nature of this exploitation in economic accounting that focuses on the family unit is revealed in this analysis by analysing the relationships within the family.
With each new conceptual level the area of enquiry is empirically and conceptually deconstructed. The process is ongoing, the new conceptualisations are used to reconstruct an alternative perspective. Thus, slowly, the ideology embedded in prevailing conceptualisations is undermined. The core abstraction is related to the social totality to see if it reveals further the nature of the workings of the totality.
Empirical data is used to elaborate the relationship and suggest further deconstructive stages.