NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ831888
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Mar
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-0159-6306
Towards Useful and Dangerous Theories
Sikes, Pat
Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, v27 n1 p43-51 Mar 2006
Like Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln, and many others, the author "wants a social science that is committed up front to issues of social justice, equity, non-violence, peace, and universal human rights" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). Educational research, as she and the three authors whose papers make up this symposium of "Discourse" conceptualise it, is, essentially, applied research. It should, they believe, lead to praxis, to committed, informed action. Researchers who engage in onanistic theorising simply for the sake of the exercise, purely for the intellectual stimulation and satisfaction that they gain, are not involved in the same endeavour. In this article, the author contends that empirical research without theory is not possible. But research couched within inflexible, tightly defined, precise, overarching, and unrelenting grand or meta-theory is not much better either. Theory of this type is essentially reductionist and can lead to what she has termed the "Cinderella's slipper syndrome": that is, when researchers do as Cinderella's ugly sisters did and remorselessly cut and slice bits off their data (feet) in order to make it fit the theory (shoe). Social life is complex, and gaining understandings with a view to making things better demands complex, flexible, and adaptable theories with the potential to provoke and guide change.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Praxis Series