Pragmatism and the primacy of the practice
7 November 2013
University of Antwerp - Stadscampus - Building S - Nile Room (first floor) - Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Organization / co-organization:
Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB)
IOB-Seminar by dr. Sarah Delputte. Apart from discussing the philosophical and methodological considerations of a pragmatist research approach, the seminar will also offer concrete examples of pragmatic methodology, based on research on EU aid coordination in Tanzania, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Pragmatism and the primacy of the practice: on problem-driven and complexity-sensitive research in social science
Sarah Delputte is Assistant Professor at the Centre for EU Studies
She obtained her PhD in EU Studies and Development Studies from Ghent University and IOB -University of Antwerp- respectively. Her doctoral dissertation focused on EU coordination in development cooperation and she conducted field research in Tanzania, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Sarah holds a Master in EU Studies from Ghent University and a Bachelor in Journalism from Artevelde University College Ghent. In 2009, she gained practical experience on EU politics during an internship in the European Commission.
In social science, scholars tend to think in terms of competing paradigms which rest on conflicting assumptions. Thus, positivists and interpretivists rarely talk to each other. This seminar will introduce the pragmatist research approach which is based on the belief in the ‘primacy of practice’ (Hellmann, 2009: 639). Pragmatism is especially suited for (1) problem-driven research that aims to produce practical/useful) knowledge, for (2) complexity sensitive research which aims to seek ‘in-depth and interpreted understanding’ (Snape & Spencer, 2003: 22) of a complex phenomenon, and for (3) explorative research which - in contrast to variable-centric or theory-driven research - envisages new insights and looks for alternative explanations. As such, pragmatism does not necessarily aim to reconcile nor to provide an alternative to the existing paradigms, but recognizes that, in order to understand a complex phenomenon, insights from multiple theories that take into account different elements of this phenomenon, could be put together. Importantly, the seminar will also clarify why pragmatism is no pretext for absolute relativism. Apart from discussing the philosophical and methodological considerations of a pragmatist research approach, the seminar will also offer concrete examples of pragmatic methodology, based on research on EU aid coordination in Tanzania, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
+32 3 265 52 96
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