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h. Reflexive Educational Research


An important kind of humanities-oriented research that merits special comment is reflexive educational research, or, educational research that has educational research itself as its object. This category encompasses multiple approaches and styles of reasoning. The issues explored here fall into at least two categories. The first is: an analytic category, which divides into two overlapping categories, methodological-epistemological and moral-political. The second is a genealogical category, which investigates the historical and epistemological sources that form what has come to be considered “commonsense” about education.

The first of the analytic categories asks questions about the meaning and relationships of central research concepts, such as “interpretation,” “understanding,” “qualitative,” and “quantitative” and also, “scientific,” “bias,” “objective,” “subjective,” “representation,” and “technical rationality.” This category also considers overlap and disagreement over methodologies, traditions and representations such as post-positivism, post-structuralism, pragmatism, arts-based research, feminism, and critical theory. The second analytic category consists of questions about the nature and extent of the value commitments in education research; research ethics; and, the politics of knowledge—the complex and myriad relationships among power, politics, research methodology, and knowledge production.

The genealogical category digs more deeply into questions about the very distinctions inherited as the commonsense of research that frame the kinds of controversies described above. It discursively investigates the relationship between epistemology and ontology and how they change in a historically contingent way. It focuses on how predecessor epistemological conceptions and assumptions persist in hidden and altered form in successor conceptions.

Educational researchers are committed to positions in each of these two broad categories, if only implicitly, and the nature of their commitments affects what they investigate as well as how they go about it.


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