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espace at MMU > Research Institutes > Manchester Institute of Social and Spatial Transformations (MISST) > Urban Transformations > On the social relations of contract research production: power, positionality and epistemology in housing and urban research

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2173/89138
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Title: On the social relations of contract research production: power, positionality and epistemology in housing and urban research
Authors: Allen, Christopher
Citation: Housing studies, 2005, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 989-1007
Publisher: Routledge
Issue Date: 1-Nov-2005
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2173/89138
DOI: 10.1080/02673030500291132
Additional Links: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/02673037.asp
Abstract: The growing interest in reflexive social science has been matched by a voluminous literature on the epistemological consequences of positionality in social research. Inter-subjectivist approaches to positionality emphasise how social interactions within the field produce ‘interpretative moments’ and thereby consciously affect the process of knowledge production. Objectivist approaches to positionality emphasise the ‘background thinking’ that social researchers carry into the field, unexamined, as occupants of social positions that are class, gender etc. based. It follows that this (class, gendered) background thinking unconsciously influences the process of knowledge production. However, since this literature has had little impact on the field of housing and urban research, its relevance to these fields remains to be established and vice versa. In this paper, I discuss both of these approaches and find them helpful but limited in their relevance to housing and urban research. Since housing and urban research tends to be undertaken on behalf of ‘policy funders’, I argue that constant exposure to the ‘disciplinary gaze’ of those funders means that the positionality of housing and urban researchers is also moulded during the course of the academic career. This means that the positionality of housing and urban researchers is not simply established within the field nor carried into the field. Rather, the positionality of housing and urban researchers develops over time of constant exposure to the ‘disciplinary gaze’ of research funders and manifests itself in what Foucault refers to as ‘docility’, i.e. research practices intuitively and uncritically oriented to satisfying the needs and demands of research funders. I draw on my own research career experiences to demonstrate this argument and, in doing so, show how my docility manifested itself during recent ‘policy funded’ research into the housing and urban problems of visual impaired children.
Type: Article
Language: en
Description: This article was originally published following peer-review in Housing Studies, published by and copyright Routledge.
Keywords: Contract research
Disciplinary power
Epistemology
Positionality
Research methods
ISSN: 0267-3037
1466-1810
Appears in Collections: Urban Transformations

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