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Readings in Methodology

African Perspectives

Jean-Bernard Ouedraogo, Carlos Cardoso

Publication Year: 2011

One of the weaknesses of research in Africa is the little consideration that is given to questions of epistemology and methodology. What we see is the trivialization of research protocols which, consequently, are reduced to fantasy prescriptions that detach social studies from universal debates over the validity of science rather than an interrogation of research procedures induced by the complexity of social dynamics. As a result, social sciences have become an imitative discourse and a recital of exotic anecdotes without perspectives. Knowledge production therefore loses any heuristic bearing. It is on the basis of this reality that attempts to correct this tendency have been made in this book by discussing the methodological foundation of social science knowledge. This volume is a collection of papers presented during methodological workshops organized by CODESRIA. Its objective is to revitalize theory and methodology in field work in Africa while contributing to the creation of a critical space hinged upon the mastery of epistemological bases which are indispensable to any scientific imagination. Far from being a collection of technical certainties and certified methods, this book interrogates the uncertain itinerary of the process of social logics discovery. In that sense, it is a decisive step towards a critical systemization of ongoing theories and practices within the African scientific community. The reader can, therefore, identify the philosophical, historical, sociological and anthropological foundations of object construction, field data exploitation and research results delivery. This book explains the importance of the philosophical and social modalities of scientific practice, the influence of local historical contexts, the different usages of new investigative tools, including the audiovisual tools. Finally, the book, backed by classical theories, serves as an invitation toward considering scientific commitment to African field research from a reflective perspective.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title page

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Copyright page

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Introduction: Questions of Method

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pp. xvii-xxxii

From the beginning, the principal reason for the organization of a series of methodological workshops for young researchers was the fact that no body of knowledge . . .

Part One - Social Reasons for Scientific Practice

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pp. 1-31

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1. Pragmatism as a Vision of the World and as a Method: A Philosophical Examination of the Challenges Presented to Contemporary Social Research by Subjective Idealism

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pp. 3-16

Carried along by the current wave of postmodernism, today, pragmatism dominates the entire social, economic and cultural field. With respect to epistemology, its world . . .

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2. The Alchemis and the Apprentice Myth-Hunter, Comments on Social Engineering in African Social Sciences

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pp. 17-35

Historians of science often emphasise the social conditions surrounding the appearance and acceptance of a particular reading of the world and the choice of techniques . . .

Part Two - Logics of Discovery

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3. An Introduction to the Epistemology of the Social Sciences

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pp. 39-76

Since their appearance in the 19th century, the social sciences have made undeniable progress, both from the point of view of knowledge that they provide us on . . .

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4. Reasons and Causes: Wittgenstein versus The Myth of Causal Explanation in the Social Sciences

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pp. 77-86

According to the normal way of looking at things, science is an activity with the objective of bringing to light the causes of phenomena. In this sense, a scientific . . .

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5. Scientific Logics and Methodologies

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pp. 87-100

Unfavorable prejudices with respect to logic have kept it at arms-length from methodological problems for some time. During the Renaissance, Montaigne accused . . .

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6. Construction of the Subject as a Practice of Clarification of Social Relationships

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pp. 101-123

Social sciences, Luc Van Campenhoudt teaches us, “are not defined by the phenomena that they study: the phenomena called “economic” by economists, the . . .

Part Three - Contextual Determinations

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7. Moroccan Sociology: Epistemological Preliminaries

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pp. 127-137

The researcher interested in sociology is, after a certain period of investigations and reflections, undeniably faced with a series of interrogations and questions of an . . .

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8. Autochthones Making their Realities Strange in Order to Better Understand Them

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pp. 139-146

In my paper titled “African(ized?) Gnosis as Sense-making?”, (Achieng’ 2005:54- 57) one cannot help noticing my heavy borrowing from already existing debates . . .

Part Four - Tools for Investigation

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9. Life History and the Writing of Ethnography: The Case of Morocco

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pp. 149-162

In this chapter, I will try to raise some questions about the complexity of collecting life histories and presenting them in ethnographic writing. I will try to show that . . .

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10. Audiovisual Instruments in Ethnographic Research

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pp. 163-172

In 1973, the most renowned researchers in Visual Anthropology met at the ninth International Congress of Anthropology and Sociology to discuss the role of film . . .

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11. Establishing an Observation, Producing a Discourse, Illustrating Results Possibilities for the Photographic Tool

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pp. 173-214

Starting from three concrete examples, we will underline several potentialities of the photographic tool for study in the social sciences.1 Various research experiences have . . .

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12. Comparison: A foundational Approach in the Social Sciences

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pp. 215-246

While comparative research is on the increase at the initiative of national and international organizations, we might be surprised at the relative lack of . . .

Part Five - Writing and Research

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13. Writing in the Social Sciences: From Field Notes to Scientific Reports

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pp. 249-272

The researcher in the social sciences never stops writing. To size up the activity of writing which continually accompanies research is to follow science to the place . . .

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9782869785175
Print-ISBN-13: 9782869784833

Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2011