Methods Archive

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This page contains bits and pieces related to my developing methods.

The UAL document titled, "Guidance for Research Degree Students a the Confirmation Stage" offers the following guidelines for the methods section:

An analysis of methods employed including, where appropriate, examples of practice, is [sic] used to show that you have reviewed your methodology. Its role is to examine if the methodology is appropriate, complete and likely to lead to a successful completing. If your research degree is practice-based then your methodology must demonstrate clearly how your theory and practice inform and relate to each other as a means of answering the research question.

Models: OB and SS caution against relying too heavily on examples. With this said, I'm looking at three approaches:

  1. the methodology chapter of Asi Sharabi's PhD Thesis, "Behind Narrative Bars: Taking the Perspective of the Other in the Israeli Palestine Conflict, posted on his useful No_Man's_Blog.
  2. I.B.'s confirmation documents
  3. M.R.'s confirmation documents


I'm especially interested in A.S.'s use of Martin Bulmer's three-tiered methodology described in his book, Sociological Research Methods: An Introduction (1977). This approach is comprised of general methodology, research strategy and research techniques. What appeals to me about Bulmer's scheme is that it acknowledges the complexity of realizing work: the ways in which decision making involves A) different tools and B) alternative forms of understanding. As an approach composed of three methods it seems suited for long-term art research because each of the layers are contingent but autonomous. By this I mean: a cultural producer may well hold fast to the general methodology throughout her career while the research strategy and techniques might change from one creative engagement to the next. In other words, it's a very practical approach for project work.

NB: the UAL doesn't own this book; A.S.'s gloss of Bulmer's approach will be reevaluated when during my next trip to the British Library.

1. General Methodology: Bulmer as quoted by AS: general methodology is "the systematic and logical study of the general principles guiding sociological investigation, concerned with the broadest sense with questions of how the sociologist establishes social knowledge and how he can convince others that is knowledge is correct" (79).

A.S. refers to his general methodology as "dialogical epistemology," which makes good sense to me knowing how dialogism (to use Michael Holquist's term) becomes a way of being in the world an relating to it.

As Bakthin observes in his Dostoevsky book:

The dialogic nature of consciousness. The dialogic nature of human life itself. The single adequate form for verbally expressing authentic human life is the open- ended dialogue. Life by its very nature is dialogic. To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree, and so forth. In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his whole life: with his eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with his whole body and deeds. He invests his entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life, into the world symposium. (293)

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Problems of Dostoyesky’s Poetics. ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota P, 1984.

Certainly, reading Bakthin has made me more sensitive to how life operates dialogically, the reification of which seems integral to my research.

A.S. is specifically interested in the dialogic as epistemology. The relational/spatial/subjective emphasis in my work necessitates thinking about it in terms of ontology as well. For A.S., "...the dialogical epistemology is vastly compatible with the theoretical propositions of [his] thesis" (79). In the case of my work, dialogue is both a core sensibility and form...something I'm hoping to establish in terms of general methodology.

Question: Do I also need to think through ANT and participation in terms of dialogue or is it enough to understand them as strategies?

2. Research Strategy: For Bulmer, research strategy is a category denoting "the practical approach and research design of a particular empirical study. It includes the formulation of the specific research question and decisions regarding sampling, operationalisations and methods of data collection. (as quote in A.S. 80)

What could this mean for art practice?

3. Research Techniques: "are the specific methods of data collection and analyses to be employed in the empirical study" (A.S., 80). In the case of A.S.'s project, these are drawings of the other and narrative compositions that were collected and interpreted.

Further research into the differentiation between research strategy and research techniques seems necessary, as I'm not entirely sure how these might be differentiated in my work. ANT: ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY

M.A. has challenged me to think critically about why I'm using this approach and not another, a project that I'm hoping to engage with later today.

A the very least, ANT provides way of establishing relationships between various components in an relational situation [network], though there are, of course, other ways of doing this.


I need a method(s) that takes into account my presence in the work--the ways in which my subjectivity is both fashioned through my engagement with and contributes to this interaction. It seems, however, that I need more to wrestle with/temper the subjective dimension of this research.


To hermeneutic of not to hermeneutic? That's the question at present. M.R. usefully differentiates Paul de Ricoeur's approach from other forms of hermeneutics...I'm especially interested in her observation that he theories the spit between the text and the speaker's intention...which seems absolutely key for avoiding the critique of Butler's notion of performativity: namely that it does not take into consideration either the context of the engagement or the ways it takes on new significance through its interpretation but others.

Or perhaps Schon's idea of reflection-in-action is sufficient?


What does it mean to embrace dialogue as both a meta-method and a mirco-method?


Here I'm thinking of both A.H.T.'s work around empathetic listening and SG's work...

return to user: Marsha