Though we are not to repeat the definitions provided in class, I find it necessary to at least provide a definition to present a basis for my ability to articulate my understandings of both ontology and methodology. Ontology, as described in class, is an individual’s idea of the world and the knowledge that world can generate.  I understand ontology as the first step of self-realization in research. Some under the influence of neopositivism believe the world is governed by universal rules, that if researched can be shown and applied to other situations.  Interpretivists believe that the social world is unlike the natural world and therefore can not be studied in the same way.  Once you understand your world-view you better understand your approach to research. Ontology is a great way to unbox what you think in a way you previously have not done so clearly. Methodology, though a different subject, continues the debate between the two views presented above. I understand methodology to be inherently derived from one’s ontological view for it is the logic of deciding what specific methods to use in order to collect data and analyze that data correctly in regard to one’s specific research.
In regard to the ability to be an objective observer, the answer is not so black and white. Sure, any individual has inherent biases due to the environment they were raised. Yet to claim that this hinders their ability to be objective in the research of the social world is too generalizing. I recognize that – in the context of research – an individual may form questions and conduct research with a bias they might not even know they have. Though, I wonder if this distorts the research entirely that it is not useful. So yes, I recognize that we all have inherent biases, yet I wonder how far the claim of lack of objectivity goes in regard to the validity of research of the social world.
Research and the ability to make valid knowledge claims stretches far beyond the physically tangible, or what is commonly perceived as “science.” For example, racism can not always be seen. Sure, we think about the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, but racism as an integral part of the American society is not inherently tangible. Nevertheless there are a vast amount of research and valid knowledge claims made about racism. To be specific, a study by Bertrand and Mullainathan found that black sounding names are 50% less likely to get a call back on a job interview than a white sounding name.  This proves racism’s intangibility but undeniable devastating effects.
- Aaron Boesenecker, “Philosophy of Science,” Video, 15:47, Posted by Aarron Boesenecker.
- Andrew Abbott. Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004), 43.
- Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?,” American Economic Review v94(4,Sep), 991-1013.
- Abbott, Andrew. Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004.
- Bertrand, Marianne and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?,” American Economic Review v94(4,Sep), 991-1013.
- Boesenecker, Aaron. “Philosophy of Science.” Video, 15:47. Posted by Aarron Boesenecker.