Monday, 14 January 2013
Luker & Research Anxiety
The first three chapters of Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences provide some cause for anxiety on the part of would-be social science researchers. Luker explains that individual research methods are more than established best practices. She argues that research methods carry with them historical and political baggage (Luker, 2008, p.30). This baggage, coupled with the inescapability of the “social influence” informing our decisions about how to study the social world (Luker, 2008, p.31), makes it incredibly difficult to approach a research project with any hope of ascertaining something close to the truth. Luker compares the search for objectivity to the practice of trying to achieve Zen enlightenment (p.6). She does not expect to achieve it, but she claims the process is worthwhile in itself. A student fresh to the process of social science research could potentially feel pessimistic about Luker’s lowered expectations. Moreover, despite the bold promises made to readers at the end of the first three chapters, Luker fails to deliver much in the way of concrete advice to students trying to grapple with these issues.