Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Foucault and Research

I've been thinking through this whole question of research methods, knowledge, and epistemology. If research is about the search for knowledge, then we should pay close attention in our research to epistemology, the science or philosophy of knowledge. Furthermore, if you believe as I do, that knowledge is socially constructed, then that belief should have implications regarding research. I think it does.

The French theorist Michel Foucault felt the same way, and he put his belief into practice in an interesting way. Foucault's argument: If knowledge is socially constructed, then the focus of research should be on those social relations required to make a certain kind of knowledge possible. Therefore, Foucault studied history, and analyzed the emergence of new kinds of knowledge. In Discipline and Punish he looked at the social conditions that led to the development of modern prison systems. In Birth of the Clinic he examined the emergence of modern medicine.

Foucault is considered an important thinker in many disciplines: literary studies, psychology, political science, history, and philosophy among others. However, I think it is his contribution to research methods that might be his greatest achievement.

I've be reading student blog's again.

Ty's Daddy has a new job which may keep him out of the classroom rest of the semester. However his blog is still with us:


Desert Rose has some good insight on interviewing and coding data:


John's reflections on zoos are a really excellent example of how to describe what you see:


Blogger 118622 has a great post with the revealing title, "To be or not to be...a writer:"


Great work--Keep blogging.


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