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Julia A. King

Legacy collections are an increasingly valued source of information for researchers interested in the study and interpretation of colonialism in the Chesapeake Bay region of North America. Through the reexamination of 34 archaeological collections ranging in date from 1500 through 1720, researchers, including the author, have been able to document interactions among Europeans, Africans, and indigenous people in this part of the early modern Atlantic. We could do this only because we turned to existing collections; no single site could reveal this complex story. This article summarizes the major findings from this work and describes the pleasures and challenges of comparative analysis using existing collections. Collections-based research can also be used to inform fieldwork, so the legacy collections of tomorrow are in as good shape as possible. Indeed, collections-based work reveals the need for a critical dialogue concerning the methods, methodology, and ethics of both collections- and field-based research.

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Liberalism's Historical Diversity

A Comparative Conceptual Exploration

José María Rosales

Rooted in late seventeenth-century theories of rights, liberal ideas have brought forth since the nineteenth century a full-edged complex of traditions in moral, political, economic, social, and legal thought. Yet in historiographical debates such complexity is often blurred by presenting it under the uniform terms of a canon. Along with other methods, conceptual history is contributing to the rediscovery of liberalism's diversity. This group of articles compiles three conceptual studies on scarcely explored aspects of the history of liberalism in Denmark, Finland, and Hungary—countries whose political past has only occasionally figured in mainstream accounts of European liberalism. This introductory article is a methodological discussion of the rationale and forms in which liberalism's historical diversity is rendered through comparative conceptual research. After reflecting on the limits of the Anglophone history of political thought to grasp the plurality of liberal traditions, the article examines how transnational conceptual histories recast the understanding of liberalism as a concept, theory, ideology, and political movement.

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Jochen Gläser and Grit Laudel

While several “grand narratives” have been developed to account for the impact of scientific things on scientific practice, there is still very little methodological support for comparative analyses of scientific things. The goal of our article is to sketch the methodological challenges involved in comparatively analyzing scientific things and including their properties in middle-range theories of scientific practice. Methodological challenges arise from the necessity to use scientists' accounts of scientific things, the dilemma between depth and breadth of comparative case-study approaches, and from the necessity to compare accounts of scientific things to each other as well as to social conditions of research. Since the dominant approaches to the study of scientific things avoid the middle levels of abstraction, we suggest using an approach based on a theory of action. Two examples from a recent study of conditions for scientific innovations illustrate our approach to the comparative analysis of properties of scientific things.

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Jan Ifversen

The article explores the object and the methodology of conceptual history, by elaborating on Reinhart Koselleck's idea of key concepts, and proposes to study them according to two different aspects of meaning: The representational aspect, which touches upon the relations between words and concepts and studies words and concepts within semantic fields, and the referential aspect, which brings in both the social history reflected in semantic changes and the contexts in which the concepts serve as factors, and which make the use of the concepts possible. The article concludes with a methodological suggestion for the use of digitized textual databases for diachronic as well as synchronic histories of concepts.

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Odette Lobato-Calleros, Humberto Rivera, Hugo Serrato, María Elena Gómez and Ignacio Méndez Ramírez

This article reports on the methodology for setting the Mexican User Satisfaction Index for Social Programs (MUSI-SP) as tested in seven national social programs. The evaluation is based on Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). How satisfaction takes the central place of the SEM, which postulates its causes and effects, contributes to the increased validity and reliability of satisfaction indicators that allow benchmarking between social programs. The MUSI model is an adaptation of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) model. The MUSI methodology includes qualitative and quantitative techniques. The estimation model is by the Partial Least Squares (PLS). In each of the seven social programs, no statistical evidence was found to reject the main relationships postulated by the ACSI’s model: that Perceived Quality impacts Satisfaction, and Satisfaction impacts Trust. The improvement opportunity areas were also identified for each program. These results give valid and reliable feedback to public policies.

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Shadowing the Bar

Studying an English Professional Elite

Justine Rogers

Once the most easily recognizable status profession, the barristers' profession or the Bar is now faced with new regulatory demands, sources of competition and commercial pressures and can, to some extent, be regarded as a contested elite. With methodology at the core of the analysis, this paper addresses the complexities of identifying and studying an historically elite group, especially when, during the research, one is being gently socialized into the ways of the group. In the process, this paper illuminates many of the norms, rituals, and social and psychological dynamics of the Bar, a group aware of its changing position and the threats and opportunities this poses.

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Katja Sarmiento-Mirwaldt

This article considers Germans' relationships with other nations from a perspective of methodological cosmopolitanism. It examines the claim that everincreasing contacts with members of different nations can bring about a sense of trust in these nations. Using data from a 2006 opinion poll, it analyzes Germans' contact with and trust in six other nations. The study suggests that Germany as a whole is too large as a level of analysis. Germans' transnational relationships are better examined at a subnational level such as political districts. It is shown that transnational contact is particularly likely to occur in border regions and in parts of Germany with a high proportion of foreign residents. The two types of contact, however, have a differential effect on Germans' trust in other nations. Cross-border contact appears to be influenced by Germany's long-standing relationships with its western allies, since such contact has a positive effect on trust in western nations but not eastern ones. Conversely, multicultural contact with immigrant communities has a generally positive effect on levels of trust in other nations.

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Roger Just

Having for nearly a century lived a shadowy existence on the margins of mainstream ethnography, summoned forth only to play bit parts in some exemplary anecdote or illustrative vignette, over the last two decades the individual has emerged to take anthropological center stage. And not just the particular individual (the individual individual, so to speak)—the Nisa or the Tuhami (Crapanzano 1980; Shostak 1981)—but also the generic individual. Of course, the ethnographic foregrounding of individual individuals cannot be decoupled from a theoretical reconsideration of the generic individual, but it is the prominence granted the latter that marks a fairly decisive shift in current explanatory and interpretative paradigms (or at least rhetoric), so that nowadays it is commonplace to remind readers that the individual members of any society discussed are all “agents” actively engaged in “contesting,” “disputing,” “negotiating,” if not “creating” the social or cultural rules and norms to which they remain subject only in so far as those rules and norms may be incorporated into their own strategic pursuits.

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Peter Herrmann

This article concerns challenges arising from the development of economic globalization as the so-called “creator of a new world order“ and its tendency to deteriorate the foundation of a global order in terms of social justice, solidarity, and human dignity. As main point of referral functions, the report of the "Commission Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi" on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress that refers to the European Commission's strategy of development, acknowledges the need for these values. On behalf of this reflection, this article is based on the recent outcomes of the exploration of these social quality issues in a recent published book by the Foundation on Social Quality. The article argues that indicators are needed in order to understand the effects of societal changes in response to the current economic globalization, which increases inequality and the fragmentation of the labor market.

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Methods Applied

Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran

Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl

In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.