Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Critical Theory and GT

Reading Barry Gibsons excellent chapter (Gibson, 2008) has helped me bring together some ideas and to envision an application of the theory that has emerged from my dissertation research. Critical theory also reminds me to reflect on my position in society and the influence that has had on my theory of human social behavior.

Gibson explains the connection between two important critical theorists, Theodor Adorno and Pierre Bourdieu and their influence on the development of the Grounded Theory Method originated by Glaser and Strauss.

Critical theory promotes social analysis to expose hegemony and the destructive influence of capitalism on social relationships with a view to emancipation of people. Gibson proposes that Glaser and Strauss sought to bridge an embarrassing gap between the theoretical and empirical traditions in sociology. The challenge was to study society from a position within society. Adorno's position was that sociology was a product of the tensions of capital, labour and reinforced the domination in society.

Day later I come across a blog entry on Stephens Web, quoting George Seimans talking about education and power. Looking for article referenced by George. George quotes Evetts, Mieg, and Felt (2006) who "suggest that expertise has as a significant sociological component. Power, authority, and validity all play a role. Focus on accountability, audits, and performance targets are now heavily intertwined with professionalism. Structures of control - such as education - are not solely about knowledge and the interaction of learners with academics. Education is a system based in a sociological context. Or, more bluntly, there is 'no fundamental difference between the pursuit of knowledge and that of power.'"

So education which can serve as a force for emancipation can also become part of the structure of domination. As mentioned in a previous post, industrial education is more about social control and enforcing conformity than empowering learning, or developing knowledge for the benefit of humanity.

Knowledge creators have also evolved a hegemonic apparatus for the systematic extraction and abstraction of knowledge. Mieg, (2006) describes the various levels of expertise in trans-disciplinary projects. Came across some more info about knowledge generation as a professional project and the role that ontology plays in the control of the production of kwowledge. Contrast formal ontology with folksonomie as in the sort of native learning systems that people put together. Illich would have loved Delicious as a tool for conviviality.

Evetts, J., Mieg, H., & Felt, U. (2006). Professionalization, scientific expertise, and elitism – a sociological perspective. In Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (pp. 105-127). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Gibson, B. (2008). Accommodating Critical Theory. In Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory (pp. 436-453). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory . New York: Aldine de Grutyer.

Mieg, H. (2006). System experts and decision making experts in trans-disciplinary projects. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 7(3), 341-351. Retrieved December 11, 2008, from

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