I met with Professor Scott Freeman on Wednesday, December 4 for roughly 20 minutes, and then continued our dialogue on email. We first discussed my puzzle and the methodology I intended on pursuing and evaluated briefly the methodological tradeoffs involved (how interpretivist discourse analysis was useful in understanding local meaning-making as opposed to the utility of a neo-positivist approach which may seek to understand the causes behind the broader phenomenon of democratization). In our conversation about my puzzle and methodological justification, I shared with Professor Freeman some of the constructive feedback I received on my interpretivist sketch and we specifically focused on what it is I isolated as my object of inquiry. Though I explicitly mentioned my object of inquiry as the ideas of “governance”, my representations focused on ideas of the “Kuwaiti government”. I have since met with Professor Boesenecker and resolved this, but in the process I also realized that the literature review was very helpful in examining and more deeply analyzing my topic. Specifically, neo-positivist literature was revealed to be quite valuable despite the fact that theories and concepts did not function to provide me with variables as in a neo-positivist research project. Noting conceptual elements derived from the literature review, such as a concomitant increase in standard of living and industrialization as well as oil resource-dependency, I realized that the literature pointed to important points of tension to examine (ie: the dynamic history of elite competition and cooperation between the monarchy and the merchant class, a relationship of dependency bypassed by nationalized oil, etc.) within my topic even if it departed from a different understanding of causality and knowledge aim.
Beyond reviewing and incorporating scholarly literature, the only lingering questions I have are about accessing further documents and mapping for exposure in the ways I discussed in my interpretivist sketch and in my meeting with Professor Freeman. I intend to work on this over Winter Break. Because most of my primary sources are limited to the 30+ constitutional convention records, I need to diversify the types of sources I analyze by including images, interviews, memoirs, etc. I have already made some progress to this end, finding a large amount of relevant digital images and recorded interviews. In terms of planning for the execution of my research next semester, I hope to make further progress in locating more sources, which is why I intend on visiting the National Assembly Library in Kuwait over Winter Break. Overall, I am satisfied with the progress I have made over the semester and I am excited to begin my research in SISU-306 with Professor Freeman’s generous support.