Social theory and methodology in education research: from conceptualisation to operationalisation

Murphy, M. and Costa, C. (2022) Social theory and methodology in education research: from conceptualisation to operationalisation. In: Murphy, M. (ed.) Social Theory and Education Research Understanding Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu and Derrida. Routledge: Abingdon, pp. 24-43. ISBN 9780367742027

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This chapter argues that the field of education should consider more fully the ways in which social theory is utilised in contemporary forms of education research. At the centre of this consideration should be a concern to develop a form of critical research literacy that positions theory as at least the significant other of method in our efforts to advance methodological innovation. The quality of education research, especially in terms of intellectual advancement, would benefit greatly from the harnessing of social theory and its transformative potential. That said, there are key challenges that need to be highlighted in the desire to merge theory and method in applied education research. Three issues in particular need special consideration: (1) how to promote hybridised theory and conceptual interdisciplinarity in education research as a counter-point to monological approaches to theory application; (2) how to encourage forms of critical reflexivity to counteract ‘off-the-shelf’ approaches to theory use; and (3) how to elevate the status of theory ‘application’ as a vital conduit in bridging concepts and research methods. These issues need special consideration as the field would ultimately benefit in the shape of greater conceptual originality and methodological rigour.

Item Type:Book Sections (Other)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murphy, Dr Mark
Authors: Murphy, M., and Costa, C.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education

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