Accountability in social research: issues and debates by Norma Romm

By Norma Romm

During this publication i've got targeting drawing awareness to numerous conceptions of responsibility that will be dropped at endure in judging the perform of social examine. a lot of the booklet is geared up round making particular the assumptions that impact what counts as “proper” examine in society, together with assumptions approximately how social inquirers may be held liable. My concentration is on reviewing discourses round the perform of “professional” inquiry, in an effort to reconsidering the way humans create expectancies for liable social inquiry. My concentration hereon is expounded to my hindrance that the style during which judgments approximately researchers’ responsibility are made, isn't with out social results for our approach to life in society. i've got approached the problems through starting with a dialogue of tenets of the location referred to as “positivism” (so named by way of sure proponents), and via contemplating the view on responsibility that's implied by way of adherence to those tenets. in brief expressed, positivist argumentation means that researchers are required to “do technological know-how” in a way that warrants their being thought of, certainly, scientists. i take advantage of my dialogue of responsibility as visible inside positivist argumentation to explicate ways that substitute positions have arisen as methods of treating responsibility concerns. via my method of evaluating many of the positions, i am hoping to supply a few indication of the complexity ofethical and responsibility matters in social inquiry.

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30 Chapter 2 In the quest to get to grips with social life, non-foundationalism emphasizes the importance of researchers adhering to the principle of value freedom that is indeed espoused within Weberian interpretivism. Non-foundationalism sees the search for knowledge of social reality as the search for patterns: the aim of social scientific inquiry is to develop an appreciation of social patterns (which admittedly in this case may be influenced by factors not present in the case of the study of nature).

Popper’s argument in relation to the tenet of phenomenalism is that observation statements (about units of observation) do not have the status of ever being provable beyond all doubt. Even such “basic statements” (as he calls them) about particular occurrences, themselves require a decision as to whether they should be accepted (1959, p. 105). 7 Popper’s contention is that none of the statements of science — ranging from the highest level of generality to “basic statements” about particular occurrences — should ever be considered as indubitable.

As he puts it: Important as such asceticism [necessary for detachment] undoubtedly is, one should not underestimate the role of the research community in socializing researchers into it and maintaining their commitment to it, as well as in correcting at least some of the biases which it does not prevent. (1995, p. 115) 24 Chapter 2 Hammersley here explicitly refers to Popper’s argument in order to emphasize the importance of the research community in calling its members to account and in correcting errors that otherwise might have been left unchecked.

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