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By Martyn Hammersley

During this publication, Martyn Hammersley argues that many social scientists are ambivalent approximately technique because of a much wider challenge: the slow decline of a formerly influential educational version of inquiry. This has happened because of ideological demanding situations and the erosion of the institutional stipulations that aid educational paintings. He defends this version, spelling out the calls for it areas upon social scientists, and studying such matters because the right position of method, the character of objectivity, the fake concept that social scientists can be intellectuals or social critics, the dialectic of educational dialogue, the ethics of trust, and the boundaries of educational freedom.

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From these perspectives, the main declared goal of social research sometimes became political change, personal or professional development, the realisation of ethical ideals, and/or aesthetic impact. As should be clear, methodology-as-philosophy took discussion in methods texts into some of the most contentious areas of philosophical enquiry, including the following: 1 Whether research can identify causal processes operating in the social world, or whether what it documents are social constructions that people produce through their interpretations of and interactions with one another.

The suggestion was that beginning researchers often experienced a huge gap between how methodology texts told them research should be done and their own experience of it, leading to a sense of incompetence and failure, when in fact what they had experienced was normal. So, part of the rationale for methodology-as-autobiography was to provide a more realistic account of the research process for students. 12 The argument here was that 11 Bell and Newby report that they invited the contributors to the volume they were editing to ‘own up’ (1977: 11).

There may well be some truth in this, but there are also those who would insist that there is a widespread lack of adequate knowledge about qualitative method too. Furthermore, a broader critique could be mounted, relating to both sides of the qualitative–quantitative divide. It might be suggested, for example, that many social scientists are not aware of the full range of data collection and analysis strategies that would be relevant to the projects in which they are engaged; that they tend immediately to adopt standard methods and standard forms of these.

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