Professor Taylor Meeting 3/28/17

On March 28, I met with Professor Taylor to discuss my analysis section.  First I will analyze my chosen videos created by the official She’s the First organization.   I identify common themes/understandings related to female empowerment.  In addition, I will identify some concepts through my own knowledge and literature review.  Using these themes I will code my interview data with members of She’s the First to analyze how members conceptualize empowerment (thematically) in their work.  I will also look for silences and missing conceptualizations.  While I have some concerns about revising my literature review, I will focus on that next week.  Since She’s the First identifies education as the primary means of obtaining empowerment I will need to focus heavily on education through empowerment.

306 Research Portfolio Post 5: Grappling with the Division of the Sciences

Bacon and Weber insist on a separation between science and values in response to previous philosophies that emphasized positivist scientific knowledge that points to universal moral understanding.  With the development of the sciences over the centuries it is not surprising that Bacon calls for an invigorating inquiry into the natural sciences.  In his view there should be a hard distinction between the natural and moral sciences in which the moral should remain untouched.  Bacon associates theology with the moral sciences.  Bacon suggests that ethics might come into play only at a much later time to inform policy and perhaps morals.  For now, science can be used to understand the practical functions of our world since we are far from realizing an end to scientific innovation with a universal set of morals.[1]

Weber models science and religion as contending spheres.  These spheres including science, religion, politics, Christianity, and other religions are incompatible.  Eventually we must choose.  While Weber chooses science he notes that any single sphere is not inherently “better”.  Science cannot give definitive answers to which sphere holds the universal truths.[2]

The continuing progress of science creates truths anchored in interpretivism’s “situated knowledge”.  In other words, in modern thought it is difficult to find universal certainty in any kind of science whether it be natural or social.  Bacon and Weber create these distinctions in order to give more room for practical scientific inquiry.  Distinctions between sciences arguably allow for greater innovation and “flourishing” apart from direct moralistic questions.  For example, scientists working on new technologies might be able to focus on the nuts and bolts of their work without allowing moralistic goals to shape or interfere with their work.  Further, separating science and morals allows for the change in values over time as society develops.  It seems to offer some middle ground in a world hesitant to give up its religious and dogmatic origins.  In a way this separation makes a lot of since because the natural sciences share characteristics with religions in how they create rituals with dedicated followers.

Without the distinction between science and ethics, my project would be difficult to develop.  Though my research about “how She’s the First constructs female empowerment and to what extent that understanding is shared with its members” might touch on value dimensions, it considers issues of power structures in international female development in a genealogical context.  I aim to understand constructions of empowerment by looking to how the current meanings came to be.  I might criticize the grounds on which these understandings are based.  However, I do not take on directly whether these meanings are in themselves right or wrong.  While such debate might be interesting in conversation, a research project that rests on universal values would be difficult to defend and might fall victim evidence based in moral relativism.

[1] Bacon, Francis, Lisa Jardine, and Michael Silverthorne. The New Organon. Cambridge [U.K.]: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

[2] Lassman, Peter, Irving Velody, Herminio Martins, and Max Weber. Max Weber’s “Science As a Vocation”. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Professor Field and Professor Boesenecker Meetings 3/7/17

On Tuesday, March 7 I met with both Professor Field and Professor Boesenecker during their office hours.  Professor Boesenecker and I discussed my methodology and how I might go about analyzing my data.  He reviewed the strategies that he covered in the discourse analysis methods workshop.  Specifically he helped me to start to think about the key concepts I will look for in my texts.  These might emerge from my literature review or my own knowledge of empowerment.  We also discussed intertextuality and how my data from She’s the First’s videos creates shared meaning with the interview material.  The organization’s videos do not make sense without knowledge of a program and the members’ meaning makes little sense without the context of educational development elsewhere.  I will probably look back to examples from Aradau and Schwartz-Shea & Yanow.

Professor Field and I touched base on my IRB exemption approval.  In the meantime I will work on editing my other sections and analyzing the video texts that I have already collected.  Starting with this analysis will help me to form my questions for interviews.  Since I will be basing some questions off of constructions of empowerment in the videos, my interviews will create a more engaging conversation between the two discourses.

Professor Field and Professor Taylor Meetings 2/28/17

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 I met with both Professor Field and Professor Taylor separately to discuss the methodology for my project.  Professor Field listened to my concerns about my project and helped me to formulate my research question as “how does She’s the First construct empowerment and to what extent is that understanding shared with participants?”  My project is twofold. 1) I want to understand how “empowerment” is constructed which I suspect is as an incontestable good.  2) I want to understand if members of She’s the First take up this concept and understand it differently.  Coming to this realization helped me to solidify my methods as well.  To expand beyond my research design sketch from last semester I decided to examine videos made by the She’s the First organization but also to conduct interviews with college members.  I will use discourse analysis to analyze both data sets.

I shared the reformulation of my question with Professor Taylor and we discussed the type of discourse analysis that I will conduct.  She recommend critical discourse analysis.

My most pressing challenge is getting IRB approval since the interview section of my project is a newer development.  Further I need to solidify my interview questions and approach, though I already have an outline.