Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I'm embedded in my own research

                While Luker's narrative style irks me at times, I have to admit that she has done a great job at highlighting my own academically trained research methods. While in the past, research has always been a very formal inorganic undertaking for me, Luker demonstrates that your research interests and your actual everyday interests can become one in the same. My background is in English Language and Literature so I spent the majority of my undergrad consumed in critical essays about things like John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. Althought I was studying it, Milton's work never really resonated with how I looked at my every interests or life (hmm ...maybe a little). The worlds just never came together, and research remained this shudder-inducing thought associated with academic tedium. Ironically, it was always simple to write research essays about things that I didn't necessarily find myself engaged with. 
        When Luker talks about how difficult it is to write a research paper about a topic that you are so socially embedded into, the thought kind of scares me. Of course, my own personal biases will affect the way I frame the research question, and the ways I will eventually go about collecting qualitative data. This type of research seems a lot more involved than what I was doing in undergrad and ultimately perhaps a lot more rewarding? I do agree that personal biases aren't entirely bad and may in fact make the end result come to life better. My research interest as of now is looking into consumerism practices, specifically how early they can come about and how this is made possible. I took Grimes' Children's Cultural Texts and Artifacts course last semester and this was something that really stood out for me. I've already started thinking about it further by thinking of how I was introduced to the idea of consumerism as a child, and how it has evolved thus far. Luker methods so far have been really helpful in looking at a particular research topic in the context of what it says about current society and the world we live in. The concept seems easy enough, but she really hits the nail on the head. 

Luker, K. (2010). Salsa dancing into the social sciences: Research in an age of info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press


  1. I too find research inorganic and thought that while Luker's point that since our current culture is one that is explorative rather than linear in the way we acquire information, research should go the same way, was interesting and sounded right, I couldn't associate myself with this type of researcher or process. Research in itself is typically structured and formal and I find myself going into a rigid mindset when doing research. The "attitude" surrounding research doesn't compute in my head as even possibly being as explorative and creative as salsa dancing, however, I'm open to hearing the rest of her argument.

  2. Personally I find (or have found in the past, anyway) that coming up with a research question/essay argument can be really organic. To be honest, though, I think this has a lot to do with the structure you're operating in. If you're answering a set question assigned by a prof, it's going to be very inorganic. Luker is really writing to grad students and profs who haven't been assigned a research topic - at that stage it seems to me almost inevitable that the research process will be more about exploration and the development of ideas.

  3. I'm not sure if "formal" and "inorganic" necessarily go hand in hand...Doesn't structure emerge wherever/whenever it is articulated? Or maybe research just seems organic or inorganic depending on precisely how and when the research design is formulated?