Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence

By Morwenna Griffiths | Go to book overview

3: Truths and methods

Epistemology and methodology: the use of technical terms

The first two chapters referred to positionings related to power relations and to methodology. They also referred to the epistemological questions which underpin both these issues. This chapter explores all these issues further and discusses their significance for research to do with people, especially educational research for social justice. It is, of course, possible to do some educational research without paying explicit attention to power or epistemology, or even to methodology. It is still possible to proceed with educational research without even using such words. However, as I explain in this chapter, any piece of research, however small, cannot help but have an epistemology. It is also always implicated in power relations. And these factors always influence the methodology, even in those cases where they are not explicitly mentioned. Further, many of the bitter arguments about the significance of research findings are founded in fundamental disagreements about knowledge and how to get it: these are, precisely, disagreements about epistemology and methodology. The discussion of the five examples of 'research for social justice' in Chapter 2 showed how these issues, especially power relations and methodology, are inextricably part of the judgement of the worth of the research, especially in relation to social justice.

'Epistemology' and 'methodology' are technical terms, rather than part of the everyday language of most people working in educational contexts. However, I have chosen to use the technical terms, knowing that I risk being off-putting to some people who just want to get on with their research rather than deal with what they see as jargon. I have found that 'too much jargon!' is the reaction of many who want to do educational research, and who turn to academics for support. Of course, it is well known that what sounds like 'jargon' may just be the words specific to an area of work. Teachers and advisors have their own versions: their professional talk often sounds like jargon to outsiders.

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Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Doing Qualitative Research in Educational Settings ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Part I: Introduction and Context 1
  • 1: Taking Sides, Getting Change 3
  • 2: Research for Social Justice? Some Examples 15
  • Part II: Theoretical Frameworks for Practical Purposes 29
  • Introduction to Part II 31
  • 3: Truths and Methods 33
  • 4: Facts and Values 44
  • 5: Living with Uncertainty in Educational Research 65
  • 6: Educational Research for Social Justice 85
  • Part III: Practical Possibilities 99
  • Introduction to Part III 101
  • 7: Getting Started 105
  • 8: Getting Justice 117
  • 9: Better Knowledge 129
  • 10: Educational Research at Large 141
  • Appendix: Fair Schools 148
  • References 149
  • Index 159
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