Re: Transparency and Paradigms

Lois Shawver (
Wed, 22 May 1996 22:46:41 -0700 (PDT)


I need some help in understanding the imagery of postmodernism that you
bring to your research. Is it just that you think postmodernism has
"messy concept and research methods"? You say:

> Which is another level of my struggle, because I have one set of
> data, particularly policy statements, which according to postmodern
> political theories, are deliberately set up to present issues in
> modernist terms as unproblematic and uncontested - whilst my data
> from teachers is very 'postmodern and messy'. But they are all drawing
> from and contributing to the same set of meanings.

I am imagining you going through a group of "policy statements",
documents I presume written to explain the policies of some institution,
and trying to find a way to summarize them, and maybe evaluate their
content? The next sentence is confusing for me, too. You say
that postmodern political theories say that [the institutions?] are
deliberately setting things up in modernist terms. I suppose what is
involved here is that the documents contain phrases that are simplifying
and presumptive, at least according to the postmoderns?

If I follow you, then this seems an unfortunate distortion of the
postmodern project, and likely a real headache for you. Right? I suppose
I agree postmodernity might be criticial of simplifying research with
positivist operational definitions, but to my mind the solution is not to
use messy concepts to do positivist research. If you are inclined to do
positivist research, count things (or measure things) that are readily
identifiable given your definitions, then do good positivist research,
use operational definitions of the clearest sort.

Maybe you could give us a more concrete description of your project? And
your concerns?

..Lois Shawver