Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A pragmatic thread

While reading Michael Crotty’s chapter on Interpretivism, he reminded me that the pragmatic world that I place myself in is one of optimistic possibility. It is a world to explore and made the most of, not a world to be subjected to radical criticism (p.74). It is true that some times the world does need to be criticized and there are aspects of human life that make interesting subjects, but on the whole human life is ripe with potential both good, bad and every thing above and below. To look at human life with a subjective view while it can be helpful it is limiting. At best it only tells us half the story. To look at the world this way we must also look at how we as humans connect to each other. We are a people connected through culture and language. To effectively participate in this culture we must see ourselves as social beings capable of a connection (some don't). This bond to our culture and thus to each other is made possible when we use our imaginations, when we put ourselves in a new place, a place that has potential, it is a place of many possibilities. The world is bountiful, teeming with possibility (p.85). What makes us human is the ability to take the role of another. We are capable of placing ourselves in someone else’s shoes and walk around a while. We can think inside our heads and wonder what it must be like over there. I see children do this rather successfully in their play. They think, believe then become like the character they want to play. This link we have with each other has been called symbolic interaction (p. 75). I have discovered that the notion of symbolic interaction while having its origin in the pragmatic movement is not unique to it. It is a thread that runs from pragmatism through ethnography, interactionism, phenomenology and right into hermeneutics, the path that I feel my research will take.

Crotty, M. (1998). The foundations of social research : meaning and perspective in the research process. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif., Sage Publications.

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