14, May 2006 02:21
A: Traditional ideas of literature reviews are not very helpful often. You should orientate the literatures that you review to the problems, you want to engage with, you want to show why you are dealing with that literatures.
Q: Is it 'ethnomethodology' that I am doing? Or is there other epistemology? Should I explain first about what I think the knowledge is in my thesis?
A: One of the way you can defence this empirical orientation is that most of the theories are related to the west anyway, so we must be cautious about jumping in, applying it. But in anyway, one of the dangerous, there is a common bad model of thesis where you get huge discussions of theories at the beginning and then you have empirical study of Lancaster or what, and then there is no joint between them. And it is much better to have, as with methodology, an introduction to the simplest point about it at the beginning and say that you are going to be developing these and they will become more complex. In the context to the interpretation of the actual data, you sort of work it out—you move from the simple to the complex, you take the reader through it; but you don't want to give them full your newest, complexest interpretation right from the beginning. So I agree that you don't have to put all you want to say about methodology at the front, but you have to put some in the front which orients the reader. You can elaborate it at some proper point later on. Pretty much the same as theory I think.
Q: when I read other phd theses, they always say that they follow a Marxist approach or Foucaultian approach and explain how they view the world.
A: but generally they can't stick with one view of world through the way anyway. That's a bit rigid I think. And that is not necessary a good model.
E: You certainly don't have to do that.
Q: Does a phd thesis need to clarify the points that we choose, for example between objectivism and subjectivism, things like that, in philosophy?
A: No not in philosophy, but you are looking into both objective circumstances, like one find themselves in the yard, and what they think, and what we do. You are dealing with both, the relationship between them. Bourdieu writes a lot about that. I think that could be put very simply.
E: The interesting thing is your work. The least interesting theses are the ones that don't realize that or don't make that enough of the new and interesting work that you have done; and, in a way, pretend it grounded, or important or, walk around loads of stuff. Anyway you are not good at doing that either.
A: One of the common problems in many students is that they want to write an extended essay on all the theories which they read, a few little comments, and it is hard to get them put their own data in their own interpretation, their research. External or internal examiners will want to know what you think, what they can learn from you, what you think, what you find out, rather than your footnotes to Bourdieu or what ever.