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- 1 Section-A
- 2 1. What is phenomenology? Explain with reference to the contribution of Martin Heidegger.
- 3 2. What is positivism? Discuss Giddens’s critique of positivism.
- 4 3. Explain the comparative method. Discuss its scope in social science research.
- 5 4. Discuss the participatory approach to social research. Compare and contrast it with conventional research methodology.
- 6 Section-B
- 7 5. Write a research report on any one of the following topics in about 3000 words.
- 8 1. Change in family structure and familial relations in India.
1. What is phenomenology? Explain with reference to the contribution of Martin Heidegger.
Ans. Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object. An experience is directed toward an object by virtue of its content or meaning (which represents the object) together with appropriate enabling conditions.
Phenomenology as a discipline is distinct from but related to other key disciplines in philosophy, such as ontology, epistemology, logic, and ethics. Phenomenology has been practiced in various guises for centuries, but it came into its own in the early 20th century in the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and others. Phenomenological issues of intentionality, consciousness, qualia, and first-person perspective have been prominent in recent philosophy of mind.
Phenomenology is commonly understood in either of two ways: as a disciplinary field in philosophy, or as a movement in the history of philosophy.
The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view. This field of philosophy is then to be distinguished from, and related to, the other main fields of philosophy: ontology (the study of being or what is), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the study of valid reasoning), ethics (the study of right and wrong action), etc.
The historical movement of phenomenology is the philosophical tradition launched in the first half of the 20th century by Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, et al. In that movement, the discipline of phenomenology was prized as the proper foundation of all philosophy—as opposed, say, to ethics or metaphysics or epistemology. The methods and characterization of the discipline were widely debated by Husserl and his successors, and these debates continue to the present day. (The definition of phenomenology offered above will thus be debatable, for example, by Heideggerians, but it remains the starting point in characterizing the discipline.)
In recent philosophy of mind, the term “phenomenology” is often restricted to the characterization of sensory qualities of seeing, hearing, etc.: what it is like to have sensations of various kinds. However, our experience is normally much richer in content than mere sensation. Accordingly, in the phenomenological tradition, phenomenology is given a much wider range, addressing the meaning things have in our experience, notably, the significance of objects, events, tools, the flow of time, the self, and others, as these things arise and are experienced in our “life-world”.
Phenomenology as a discipline has been central to the tradition of continental European philosophy throughout the 20th century, while philosophy of mind has evolved in the Austro-Anglo-American tradition of analytic philosophy that developed throughout the 20th century. Yet the fundamental character of our mental activity is pursued in overlapping ways within these two traditions. Accordingly, the perspective on phenomenology drawn in this article will accommodate both traditions. The main concern here will be to characterize the discipline of phenomenology, in a contemporary purview, while also highlighting the historical tradition that brought the discipline into its own.
Basically, phenomenology studies the structure of various types of experience ranging from perception, thought, memory, imagination, emotion, desire, and volition to bodily awareness, embodied action, and social activity, including linguistic activity. The structure of these forms of experience typically involves what Husserl called “intentionality”, that is, the directedness of experience toward things in the world, the property of consciousness that it is a consciousness of or about something. According to classical Husserlian phenomenology, our experience is directed toward—represents or “intends”—things only through particular concepts, thoughts, ideas, images, etc. These make up the meaning or content of a given experience, and are distinct from the things they present or mean.
The basic intentional structure of consciousness, we find in reflection or analysis, involves further forms of experience. Thus, phenomenology develops a complex account of temporal awareness (within the stream of consciousness), spatial awareness (notably in perception), attention (distinguishing focal and marginal or “horizonal” awareness), awareness of one’s own experience (self-consciousness, in one sense), self-awareness (awareness-of-oneself), the self in different roles (as thinking, acting, etc.), embodied action (including kinesthetic awareness of one’s movement), purpose or intention in action (more or less explicit), awareness of other persons (in empathy, inter subjectivity, collectivity), linguistic activity (involving meaning, communication, understanding others), social interaction (including collective action), and everyday activity in our surrounding life-world (in a particular culture).
Furthermore, in a different dimension, we find various grounds or enabling conditions—conditions of the possibility—of intentionality, including embodiment, bodily skills, cultural context, language and other social practices, social background, and contextual aspects of intentional activities. Thus, phenomenology leads from conscious experience into conditions that help to give experience its intentionality. Traditional phenomenology has focused on subjective, practical, and social conditions of experience. Recent philosophy of mind, however, has focused especially on the neural substrate of experience, on how conscious experience and mental representation or intentionality are grounded in brain activity. It remains a difficult question how much of these grounds of experience fall within the province of phenomenology as a discipline. Cultural conditions thus seem closer to our experience and to our familiar self-understanding than do the electrochemical workings of our brain, much less our dependence on quantum-mechanical states of physical systems to which we may belong. The cautious thing to say is that phenomenology leads in some ways into at least some background conditions of our experience.
- The Discipline of Phenomenology
The discipline of phenomenology is defined by its domain of study, its methods, and its main results.
Phenomenology studies structures of conscious experience as experienced from the first-person point of view, along with relevant conditions of experience. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, the way it is directed through its content or meaning toward a certain object in the world.
We all experience various types of experience including perception, imagination, thought, emotion, desire, volition, and action. Thus, the domain of phenomenology is the range of experiences including these types (among others). Experience includes not only relatively passive experience as in vision or hearing, but also active experience as in walking or hammering a nail or kicking a ball. (The range will be specific to each species of being that enjoys consciousness; our focus is on our own, human, experience. Not all conscious beings will, or will be able to, practice phenomenology, as we do.)
Conscious experiences have a unique feature: we experience them, we live through them or perform them. Other things in the world we may observe and engage. But we do not experience them, in the sense of living through or performing them.
2. What is positivism? Discuss Giddens’s critique of positivism.
Ans. Positivism, in Western philosophy, generally, any system that confines itself to the data of experience and excludes a priori or metaphysical speculations. More narrowly, the term designates the thought of the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857).
As a philosophical ideology and movement, positivism first assumed its distinctive features in the work of Comte, who also named and systematized the science of sociology. It then developed through several stages known by various names, such as empiriocriticism, logical positivism, and logical empiricism, finally merging, in the mid-20th century, into the already existing tradition known as analytic philosophy.
The basic affirmations of positivism are (1) that all knowledge regarding matters of fact is based on the “positive” data of experience and (2) that beyond the realm of fact is that of pure logic and pure mathematics. Those two disciplines were already recognized by the 18th-century Scottish empiricist and skeptic David Hume as concerned merely with the “relations of ideas,” and, in a later phase of positivism, they were classified as purely formal sciences. On the negative and critical side, the positivists became noted for their repudiation of metaphysics—i.e., of speculation regarding the nature of reality that radically goes beyond any possible evidence that could either support or refute such “transcendent” knowledge claims. In its basic ideological posture, positivism is thus worldly, secular, antitheological, and antimetaphysical. Strict adherence to the testimony of observation and experience is the all-important imperative of positivism. That imperative was reflected also in the contributions by positivists to ethics and moral philosophy, which were generally utilitarian to the extent that something like “the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people” was their ethical maxim. It is notable, in this connection, that Comte was the founder of a short-lived religion, in which the object of worship was not the deity of the monotheistic faiths but humanity.
There are distinct anticipations of positivism in ancient philosophy. Although the relationship of Protagoras—a 5th-century-BCE Sophist—for example, to later positivistic thought was only a distant one, there was a much more pronounced similarity in the classical skeptic Sextus Empiricus, who lived at the turn of the 3rd century CE, and in Pierre Bayle, his 17th-century reviver. Moreover, the medieval nominalist William of Ockham had clear affinities with modern positivism. An 18th-century forerunner who had much in common with the positivistic antimetaphysics of the following century was the German thinker Georg Lichtenberg.
The proximate roots of positivism, however, clearly lie in the French Enlightenment, which stressed the clear light of reason, and in 18th-century British empiricism, particularly that of Hume and of Bishop George Berkeley, which stressed the role of sense experience. Comte was influenced specifically by the Enlightenment Encyclopaedists (such as Denis Diderot, Jean d’Alembert, and others) and, especially in his social thinking, was decisively influenced by the founder of French socialism, Claude-Henri, comte de Saint-Simon, whose disciple he had been in his early years and from whom the very designation positivism stems.
Comte’s positivism was posited on the assertion of a so-called law of the three phases (or stages) of intellectual development. There is a parallel, as Comte saw it, between the evolution of thought patterns in the entire history of humankind, on the one hand, and in the history of an individual’s development from infancy to adulthood, on the other. In the first, or so-called theological, stage, natural phenomena are explained as the results of supernatural or divine powers. It matters not whether the religion is polytheistic or monotheistic; in either case, miraculous powers or wills are believed to produce the observed events. This stage was criticized by Comte as anthropomorphic—i.e., as resting on all-too-human analogies. Generally, animistic explanations—made in terms of the volitions of soul-like beings operating behind the appearances—are rejected as primitive projections of unverifiable entities.
Ans. Comparative methods seek evidence for adaptive evolution by investigating how the characteristics of organisms, such as their size, shape, life histories, and behaviors, evolve together across species. They are one of evolutionary biology’s most enduring approaches for testing hypotheses of adaptation. Combined with information on the phylogenetic relationships among a group of organisms, comparative methods can infer ancestral states, timings of events of evolution, the tempo and mode of evolutionary change, and correlations between traits, and traits and environments. This article discusses the application and interpetation of comparative studies, reviews their historical development, then describes new methodologies for analysing comparative data.
The comparative method pursues two goals alternately. On the one hand, it seeks to accentuate the distinctive feature of each individual case, and on the other, attempts to derive evidence on general developments from case studies. While historians tend toward the first approach, the second is more prevalent among social scientists. Comparative historical studies do, however, also deal with the question of commonalities. Four functions are granted to comparison in these studies: a heuristic function, a contrastive function, an analytical function, and a distancing function.
Comparison plays a heuristic role when it alone can offer explanations and reveal phenomena that had been unknown or inadequately known up to that point. This function was already referred to by Marc Bloch, who, based on his knowledge of the English enclosure movement, sought an equivalent in French agrarian history. Founding his thesis on research in regional history, he dates the disappearance of collective rights in Provence as early as the fifteenth century, and concludes from this that similar movements took place in France not only earlier, but also under other conditions. Thanks to the comparative method, Bloch was able to discover a characteristic of French agrarian development through his studies of the agrarian history of other countries.
Historical comparison can be called contrastive when it serves to define more precisely the special features of a specific case. Above all in German–French comparison, this method was used to bring into bold relief the particularly xenophobic character of German nationalism in the early nineteenth century, the insurance character of Germany’s social security system, and its unique characteristic of having a highly educated middle class. Comparison of Italian and Anglo-Saxon developments brought out the regressive state of Italian industrial development, its lack of a modern party system, and its unique feature of having a patrician, noble class. Depending on the country selected for comparison and the logic behind this comparison, specific characteristics of the mostly isolated national case but also of regional patterns of development are illuminated and brought into clear contrast against the totality. At least two problems emerge in this endeavor: the further the development stage in the reference country or region deviates from the individual case in question, the less suitable it is for defining the specifics of the case beyond mere identification of general deficits. If one measures the economic development in Italy in the nineteenth century using as a yardstick the conditions that promoted industrialization in England, one can only determine that these conditions were lacking in Italy, but cannot identify the specific conditions for the economic growth that took place there. The more that the comparative reality is used merely as a foil to highlight the contours of a specific case, the more typological and reductive the resulting picture. International case studies written in comparison to the German case with the aim of presenting a general view of the livelihood and benefits of German white-collar employees have only rarely provided convincing analyses of the individual national developments in the employee milieu. This inherent bias of comparison should be borne in mind in each case.
Comparison has an analytical character when it either tests a scientific hypothesis or identifies constellations of causes in a specific situation. The thesis that a causal relationship exists between capitalism and feudalism is relativized by the fact that strong fascist movements did not emerge in all capitalist societies; they were able to develop only under specific conditions. Jürgen Kocka qualified this assumption in his comparison of American and German society between the two World Wars. In a study of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions, Theda Skocpol inquired as to the results of collapsed administrative apparatuses, broad peasant rebellions, and movements among political elites, thereby demonstrating the extreme diversity in the constellations of causes which explain the outbreak of modern revolutions.
In this analytical approach, comparison can also serve as an indirect experiment. When phenomenon a is ascribed to cause b, the historian can test their hypothetical connection by looking for constellations in other societies in which a appears without b, or where b exists without leading to a. This heuristically useful procedure is distinguished from experiments in the natural sciences in that here, the ceteris paribus conditions are seldom given.
Comparison has a distancing effect when it offers another perspective to observation and analysis. It can produce surprising discoveries as well as relativizing the tradition-based context of national historiographies. Especially for those historiographies that are deeply embedded in a national context, comparison can open up new and often broader vistas. When confronting comparisons with other reference cases—especially those from other cultures—not only does one gain experience with different types of question and method, but also fundamental assumptions of one’s own historiography can be revealed and their problems expounded. The comparative view can also contribute new insights: Skocpol, for example, uses the comparative method to shed new light on the similarities between the French Revolution of the eighteenth century and the Chinese revolution of the twentieth century in her comparison of revolutions, and between the cities of France and Japan in the eighteenth century. Taking into consideration the variety of alternative pathways into the modern age prevents exclusive concentration on the European development path, and offers insight into those conditions of European development which cannot be generalized.
Ans. Participatory Research (PR) is a research-to-action approach that emphasizes direct engagement of local priorities and perspectives. PR can be defined as an umbrella term for research designs, methods, and frameworks that use systematic inquiry in direct collaboration with those affected by the issue being studied for the purpose of action or change. PR prioritizes co-constructing research through partnerships between researchers and stakeholders, community members, or others with insider knowledge and lived expertise. Simply put, PR engages those who are not necessarily trained in research but belong to or represent the interests of the people who are the focus of the research. Instead of the “subjects” of traditional research, PR collaborates with stakeholders, community, constituents, and end-users in the research process.
By sharing leadership in research, PR “contributes directly to the flourishing of human persons, their communities, and the ecosystems of which they are part”. PR has a multitude of benefits including research that is informed by and relevant to real-world contexts, results that can be more effectively translated into community and non-academic settings, and research quality and rigor that is improved by the “integration of researchers’ theoretical and methodological expertise with nonacademic participants’ real-world knowledge and experiences into a mutually reinforcing partnership.
International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research. Increasingly, PR is used and valued across disciplines as a way to solve complex problems; however, the nomenclature of the specific PR approaches varies widely. The breadth of terms describing the PR orientation is vast, but they share in common a value in doing research with those who are typically the subjects of research, rather than on them.
Participatory research integrates scientific investigation with education and political action. Researchers work with members of a community to understand and resolve community problems, to empower community members, and to democratize research. The methods of participatory research include group discussions of personal experience, interviews, surveys, and analysis of public documents. Topics that have been investigated with this approach include community issues such as polluted water supplies and the school curriculum, employment issues such as working conditions and unionization, and theoretical issues about consent and resistance to domination. For social scientists who question the traditions of being detached and value-free, and who seek an approach that is less hierarchical and that serves the interests of those with little power, participatory research is a valuable alternative.
Participatory research can be identified by five characteristics: (1) participation by the people being studied; (2) inclusion of popular knowledge; (3) a focus on power and empowerment; (4) consciousness raising and education of the participants; and (5) political action. A precise definition should be avoided so that each group that does participatory research can be free to develop some of its own methods.
Participation in the research process by the people being studied is best viewed as a continuum that includes low levels of participation, such as asking people who are interviewed to read and comment on the transcripts of their interviews, as well as high levels of participation. Ideally, community members have a significant degree of participation and control, and help to determine the major questions and overall design of the study. Second, participatory research validates popular knowledge, personal experience and feelings, and artistic and spiritual expressions as useful ways of knowing. If researchers are to work with community members as co-investigators, they must respect people’s knowledge. Moreover, one of the rationales for community participation in research is the assumption that people understand many aspects of their situation better than outsiders do. Practitioners have used group discussions, photography, theater, and traditional tales to draw on popular knowledge.
A focus on power and empowerment also distinguishes most participatory research. “The core issue in participatory research is power. The transformation of power structures and relationships as well as the empowerment of oppressed people,” states Patricia Maguire in her excellent analysis of the field. Participatory researchers differ widely in their positions on empowerment, and include radicals who try to transform the power structure by mobilizing peasants to wrest land from the ruling class, as well as conservatives who ignore power relations and focus on limited improvements such as building a clinic or a collective irrigation system.
5. Write a research report on any one of the following topics in about 3000 words.
1. Change in family structure and familial relations in India.
Ans. Families have both structure and function. Like the skeleton and muscles in a body, the structure is what gives a family it’s size and shape. Also, like organs within the body that perform necessary functions to keep the body working, there are certain necessary functions that keep families healthy. It sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. It asserts that our lives are guided by social structures, which are relatively stable patterns of social behaviour. Social structures give shape to our lives – for example, in families, the community, and through religious organizations and certain rituals, or complex religious ceremonies, give structure to our everyday lives. Each social structure has social functions or consequences for the operation of society as a whole.
Social structures consist of social relationships, as well as any social institutions within a society. One example of a social structure is a social class (upper-class, middle-class, and poor). Another example of a social structure is the different levels of government. Family, religion, law, economy, and class are all social structures.
India and its family structure
India has a rich family structure with a patrilineal background, which help the family members to sustain a life with kinship groupings. Earlier, mostly joint families were found where family members live together under one roof. They all mutually work, eat, worship and co-operate each other in one or the other way. This also helps the family to get strong mentally, physically and economically, the children also get to know about the values and traditions of the society from their grandparents and elders. The family system has given a lot of importance in India and has worked more often to make the bonding among families stronger. The family system has given a lot of importance in India and has worked more often to make the bonding among families stronger. Meanwhile, urbanization and westernization had its influence on the basic structure of the Indian family structure. The division of the joint family into smaller units is not the symbol of people rejecting this traditional structure. The circumstances and conditions also made the need for people to split the family.
The family as a social institution has been undergoing change. Both in its structure and functions changes have taken place. In India, as in many traditional societies, the family has been not only the centre of social and economic life but also the primary source of support for the family members. The increasing commercialization of the economy and the development of the infrastructure of the modern state have introduced a significant change in the family structure in India in the 20th century. Especially, the last few decades have witnessed important alterations in family life.
India’s fertility rate has fallen, and couples have begun to bear children at a later age. At the same time, life expectancy has increased, resulting in more elderly people who need care. All of these changes are taking place in the context of increased urbanization, which is separating children from elders and contributing disintegration of family-based support systems.
Factors affecting family structures
Change in Fertility: An inevitable outcome of declining fertility rates and increasing age at first birth in most of the countries in the world, including India, is a reduction in family size. Fertility declined due to the combined effect of substantial socio-economic development achieved during the last two decades and the effective implementation of family planning programmes.
Hence, it has become irrational for many people to have large families as the cost of children is increasing. In traditional societies, where human labour was a source of strength to the family, more children were preferred to fewer. But as the economic contribution from the children in a family decreased, because of a move away from agriculture, the need for large numbers of children decreased. Improvements in health care and child survival also contributed. The emphasis was on the quality of life rather than the number of children, a new concept added to the family.
Change in Age of marriage: In many countries in the world where significant declines infertility are being experienced, reductions in the proportion of people never married have often coincided with or preceded declines in marital fertility. A substantial increase in the proportions never married, among both males and females, at young ages, has been noted in many countries. A consequence of the increase in the proportion of never-married young adults is the gradual upward trend of the average age at marriage. Postponement of marriage among females resulted in the postponement of childbearing with a reduction in family size.
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