I appreciate this opportunity to reflect on what type of baggage, or assumptions, I will be carrying with me on the journey that is social science research. In this imaginary duffle bag that I plan on slinging across my back, I must prepare a package of tools that I deem useful for the journey ahead . The methodology I choose will inform the way in which I navigate myself, while my ontological convictions will inform the type of destination that I am navigating towards in the first place. Both neo-positivist and interpretivist routes systematically produce empirical knowledge and both journeys would be internally valid in their own right. But I now realize that it is more a matter of how I visualize, or would like to visualize, my final destination. In other words, what type of concepts (destinations) within our social reality are even out there for me to understand and explain (journey towards)?
Before embarking on said journey, Abbott emphasizes the importance of reflecting on one’s own intellectual personality. More often than not, I take new concepts and ascertain how they connect to ones that I am already familiar with, characteristic of an “S” person . This intellectual habit of chaining disparate concepts very well may manifest itself during my research process. I admit, albeit grudgingly, that I feel most comfortable when I can pigeonhole concepts into a symmetrical model of social reality. On the other hand, I aspire to be a researcher who accepts ambiguity and has the courage to wallow in it because I believe that social reality is subjective, that context matters, and that all experience is relative. In my last post I mentioned conducting a comparative analysis between the U.S. and Russia, similar to the Kurt Weyland’s research comparing the Arab Spring and the Revolutions of 1848 . This, as Dr. Boesnecker commented, is more of a neo-positivistic approach despite the fact that I thought I was leaning towards (or subconsciously wanted to lean towards) a more interpretivist approach. Personally, I do not believe that there is always a causal mechanism lurking beneath the surface, one that can be teased out with the correct hypotheses and best-operationalized variables. That said, it seems apparent that I have a habit of linking concepts together in a way that assumes generalizability. Even whilst writing this post I feel like I am unearthing a subtle divergence between the social science researcher that I aspire to be and the thinker that I am now.
In terms of my own research puzzle, I think it would be naïve to claim that I could ever be a completely objective observer. No matter how much I try to minimize the political assumptions I carry as a Russo-Georgian immigrant to the U.S., they will subliminally inform my reasoning—whether it ends up being inductive, deductive, or abductive. I must be cautious not to imbue certain jaded, normative assumptions that could explain the behavior and motivations of states that sanction extra-judicial assassinations on foreign soil. I just hope that I can strike an appropriate degree of transparency for maintaining a sense of trust with my reader. I look forward to further pondering my ontological and methodological commitments and finding a way that I can reconcile both in a way that most completely satisfies my intellectual personality.
 Abbott, Andrew Delano. Methods of Discovery Heuristics for the Social Sciences. 1st ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2004. p. 3-79
Abbott, Andrew Delano. Methods of Discovery Heuristics for the Social Sciences. 1st ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2004. p. 245
Weyland, Kurt. “The Arab Spring: Why the Surprising Similarities with the Revolutionary Wave of 1848?” Perspectives on Politics10, no. 4 (2012): 917-34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23326925.