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Abstract

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Individualism, Holism and the Central Dilemma of Sociological Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-038-7

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Abstract

Details

Individualism, Holism and the Central Dilemma of Sociological Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-038-7

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Article

Roberto Poli

The purpose of this paper is to explain why finding a theory for futures studies is such a demanding task. In particular, the paper paves the way towards a theoretical

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain why finding a theory for futures studies is such a demanding task. In particular, the paper paves the way towards a theoretical framework that goes beyond both positivism and anti‐positivism.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper discusses a network of mutually interlinked concepts, including: levels of reality; parts and wholes; causation; the multiplicity of times; anticipation; the thick present; and latents.

Findings

The paper presents the two main obstructions blocking the way towards a theory for futures studies (namely, the belief that the opposition between positivists and anti‐positivists is exhaustive, and the need for better connections with other sciences such as biology, cognitive science and the social sciences.

Research limitations/implications

The paper discusses only one of the different threads in the elaboration of a theoretical basis for futures studies, namely the components closer to science.

Social implications

A proper theory for futures studies will contribute to making them more robust and efficient.

Originality/value

The general framework presented by the paper extends well beyond the somewhat restricted field of futures studies and includes social and psychological sciences, together with biology.

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Article

Peter McGhee and Patricia Grant

This study aims to demonstrate how critical realism (CR) can be used in spirituality at work (SAW) research and to provide a practical example of CR in SAW research.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to demonstrate how critical realism (CR) can be used in spirituality at work (SAW) research and to provide a practical example of CR in SAW research.

Design/methodology/approach

CR is a philosophical meta-theory that allows the stratification of spirituality into different levels of reality, advocates for research methods matching the ontology of the level investigated and provides complementary methods of exploring this phenomenon’s causal power in social contexts. The authors present a study where CR was used to explain how and why SAW influences ethics in organisational contexts.

Findings

The results demonstrate that CR provides a useful approach to bridging the positivist-interpretivist difference in SAW research. Moreover, a CR approach helped explain the underlying conditions and causal mechanisms that power SAW to influence ethical decision-making and behaviour in the workplace.

Originality/value

While CR has been applied in the management literature, negligible SAW research has used this approach. That which exists is either conceptual or does not discuss methods of data analysis, or describe how critical realist concepts resulted in their findings. This paper addresses that lacuna. CR also provides value, as an alternative approach to SAW research, in that it allows the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods as complementary, not confrontational methods while providing a more integrated and deeper view of SAW and its effects.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 40 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article

Claudio Gnoli and Riccardo Ridi

The different senses of the term information in physical, biological and social interpretations, and the possibility of connections between them, are addressed. Special…

Abstract

Purpose

The different senses of the term information in physical, biological and social interpretations, and the possibility of connections between them, are addressed. Special attention is paid to Hofkirchner's Unified Theory of Information (UTI), proposing an integrated view in which the notion of information gets additional properties as one moves from the physical to the biological and the social realms. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

UTI is compared to other views of information, especially to two theories complementing several ideas of it: the theory of the hypertextual documental universe (“docuverse”) and the theory of integrative levels of reality. Two alternative applications of the complex of these three theories are discussed: a pragmatical, hermeneutic one, and a more ambitious realist, ontological one. The latter can be extended until considering information (“bit”) together with matter-energy (“it”) as a fundamental element in the world. Problems and opportunities with each view are discussed.

Findings

It is found that the common ground for all three theories is an evolutionary approach, paying attention to the phylogenetic connections between the different meanings of information.

Research limitations/implications

Other theories of information, like Leontiev's, are not discussed as not especially related to the focus of the approach.

Originality/value

The paper builds on previously unnoticed affinities between different families of information-related theories, showing how each of them can provide fruitful complements to the other ones in clarifying the nature of information.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 70 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Book part

Brian O’ Boyle and Terrence McDonough

This chapter undertakes one re-evaluation of Louis Althusser’s philosophical legacy for modern Marxism. While Althusser self-consciously undertook to defend the scientific…

Abstract

This chapter undertakes one re-evaluation of Louis Althusser’s philosophical legacy for modern Marxism. While Althusser self-consciously undertook to defend the scientific character of Marxism and so permanently establish it on a firm footing, many of his closest followers eventually exited the Marxian paradigm for a post-structuralism post-Marxism. We will argue that this development was rooted in Althusser’s initial procedure as he attempted to ground Marxism’s scientificity in an epistemological argument whose main referent was Marxism itself. This initiated a circularity which was ultimately to prove fatal to Althusser’s project. Less remarked upon, however, is a further legacy of the Althusserian oeuvre, the critical realist conception of Marxism initiated by Roy Bhaskar. Bhaskar found part of his inspiration in Althusser’s successful posing of the question of Marx’s science. On the one hand, Althusser’s work can legitimately be seen as a bridge into the post-modern challenge to Marxism. On the other hand, it can be seen as clearing the ground and establishing some of the foundation for critical realism’s successful recuperation of the scientific character of Marxism.

Details

Research in Political Economy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-007-0

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Article

Marianne Wikgren

The philosophical position known as critical realism is briefly introduced, and some of its central features are used to connect the philosophy and the realist social…

Abstract

Purpose

The philosophical position known as critical realism is briefly introduced, and some of its central features are used to connect the philosophy and the realist social theory to some current library and information science (LIS) models of information behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses a literature‐based analysis of the critical realism concepts of a stratified social reality, the importance of contextualisation, and the relation between structure and agency. These features are discussed in relation to various models of information‐seeking behaviour, but also to the “interpretative” approach to information as meaning which can only be achieved through discourses in a human community.

Findings

The critical realism perspective could lay a fruitful foundation for an interdisciplinary research field like LIS, and its user studies in particular, concerned with many levels of information creation, seeking, use and processing. It is the task of the LIS researcher to explain the mechanisms that influence the information seeking, not only on an empirical level, by observing the user and his/her discourse community, but also by revealing possible underlying causes and relations.

Originality/value

An awareness of the fact that social and cultural structures exist independent of one's knowledge of them has implications on how many central problems in the LIS field are regarded and studied.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 61 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Book part

Diane Brook Napier

Most comparative education research has included investigation of dimensions of educational reform but not all research in the field has focused concertedly on reform in…

Abstract

Most comparative education research has included investigation of dimensions of educational reform but not all research in the field has focused concertedly on reform in relation to the realities in practice. In the latter half of the 20th century comparativists underscored the need to investigate implementation issues, not just reform policies, as had often been the case in earlier comparative research, since time had shown that political processes did not always equate with educational outcomes. Reforms can be thwarted altogether, significantly modified or mediated in practice, embraced with qualification, or differentially implemented across regions or levels within a given country. Reform implementation might produce intended and unintended change (for better or for worse); or no change at all might be the outcome; or change might occur ahead of reform. Some of the most fascinating findings in comparative research are dichotomous considerations of change such as policy versus practice, ideal versus real, de facto change versus de jure change, intended and unintended outcomes of reform, grass-roots (bottom–up) versus centralized (top–down) reforms, and de facto change legitimized-after-the-fact through reform or new policy.

Details

Global Trends in Educational Policy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-175-0

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Article

Claudio Gnoli

The current debate between two theoretical approaches in library and information science and knowledge organization (KO), the cognitive one and the sociological one, is…

Abstract

Purpose

The current debate between two theoretical approaches in library and information science and knowledge organization (KO), the cognitive one and the sociological one, is addressed in view of their possible integration in a more general model. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Personal knowledge of individual users, as focused in the cognitive approach, and social production and use of knowledge, as focused in the sociological approach, are reconnected to the theory of levels of reality, particularly in the versions of Nicolai Hartmann and Karl R. Popper (three worlds). The notions of artefact and mentefact, as proposed in anthropological literature and applied in some KO systems, are also examined as further contributions to the generalized framework. Some criticisms to these models are reviewed and discussed.

Findings

Both the cognitive approach and the sociological approach, if taken in isolation, prove to be cases of philosophical monism as they emphasize a single level over the others. On the other hand, each of them can be considered as a component of a pluralist ontology and epistemology, where individual minds and social communities are but two successive levels in knowledge production and use, and are followed by a further level of “objectivated spirit”; this can in turn be analyzed into artefacts and mentefacts. While all these levels are relevant to information science, mentefacts and their properties are its most peculiar objects of study, which make it distinct from such other disciplines as psychology and sociology.

Originality/value

This analysis shows how existing approaches can benefit from additional notions contributed by levels theory, to develop more complete and accurate models of information and knowledge phenomena.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 74 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

K.H. Spencer Pickett

Using the backdrop of an (apparently) extended visit to the West Indies, analogies with key concerns of internal audit are drawn. An unusual and refreshing way of

Abstract

Using the backdrop of an (apparently) extended visit to the West Indies, analogies with key concerns of internal audit are drawn. An unusual and refreshing way of exploring the main themes ‐ a discussion between Bill and Jack on tour in the islands ‐ forms the debate. Explores the concepts of control, necessary procedures, fraud and corruption, supporting systems, creativity and chaos, and building a corporate control facility.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 37 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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