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Exploring the social construction of philosophical assumptions: the methodological journeys of doctoral researchers in the social sciences

Clark, T. R. (2017) Exploring the social construction of philosophical assumptions: the methodological journeys of doctoral researchers in the social sciences. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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Existing information regarding methodological journeys is predominantly restricted to autobiographical accounts, which may limit understanding, particularly in relation to the development, and significance, of methodological consciousness. This thesis explores the methodological journeys of doctoral social sciences researchers in the UK, in the early stages of their research career. It investigates how they speak of their perceptions of their individual journeys, and the potential relationships between their life histories and educational experiences and the epistemological, ontological and methodological assumptions they hold. The research design consisted of life history interviews with 9 researchers. In addition, 6 of the researchers were then involved in collective biography discussions. Information from these interviews was developed into a series of narrative accounts, which illustrate the complexity of the individual journeys. The analysis of the narrative information also included attempts to approach the information through both an interpretivist and post-structuralist lens, and privileged the value of embracing multiple perspectives. The accounts of the researchers indicated that through their journeys, their philosophical assumptions may be understood as a socially constructed product of their life histories and academic experiences. The journeys were characterised as a series of social experiences which challenged and reinforced individual assumptions. The presentation of these journeys was seen as connected to social context and the nature of the assumptions held by the individual. Experiences of post graduate research training were presented as having the potential to unlock the methodological consciousness required to re-frame these experiences, improve understanding and resolve methodological conflict. This research presents an original contribution to knowledge through its approach to the exploration and illustration of methodological journeys. It has implications for post graduate programmes in the social sciences and makes a case for the need for these to embrace methodological diversity and introduce paradigmatic understandings through teaching and supervision. In addition it asserts that individual researchers may benefit from directly engaging in aspects of reflexivity and contextualisation of their assumptions.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:McCrum, E. and Floyd, A.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:73245


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