Posts tagged ‘Theory’

September 5, 2013

Obscuring Context in the Name of Research

Written by: Natasha Somji

For some time now, I have been debating whether or not to stay within the world of academia. While I love theories and conducting analysis, there is a sense of discomfort I feel whenever I consider pursuing a PhD that is not entirely captured by the monumental monetary costs or confusion about what I want to study. Much of this squeamishness has to do with questioning whether I buy into the mainstream version of academia: a field that uses theories and models to predict outcomes and then validates these predictions through quantitative studies. I find myself sometimes doubting the purpose of academia and how it is executed. If models were constructed with a particular audience in mind and studies are run on certain samples, how can these be generalisable to new contexts? Can studies that employ quantitative techniques – widely hailed as being more credible in substantiating results – really capture the subjectivity of the human experience?

Much of academia relies on using numbers to validate theories and models. The problem comes in when these same studies view people as mere numbers and do not consider more qualitative aspects of an individual or the culture in which models are operating.

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