Reflecting on the methodology question in my quals, yesterday’s conversation about participatory and critical research, and this week’s readings on repair in particular.
That ol’ Black Box. A constant worry I have had about DP and CA is the ease with which they might be interpreted as a kind of “linguistic behaviorism” in which access to the mind is an impossible project & therefore the mind is not the site of claim-making. This is explicitly not the position taken by DP researchers from the field’s initiation (Wetherell & Potter, 1987) through contemporary understandings 30 years later (Wiggins, 2017). Nonetheless, the relationship between DA and cognition feels a tense one, though I know many have written about this. When talking about epistemic rights, inevitable seems the urge to wonder who “actually” has K+ or K- knowledge.
In my recent thinking, I have contrasted LS approaches that treat languages as broadly revealing of thought with those that treat interaction as the site of learning. To me it seems obvious that what one says has only a limited relationship with what one thinks – and the example is the kind of communicative autopilot on which we often run (talking without thinking). So last week, in reading the review of CA online (Paulus, Lester, & Warren, 2016), I thought – who cares about screen capture data? If the communicative action is not visible to the other interactant(s), why should the researcher take up the privileged position of accessing that part of the articulation process when it can’t possibly be of meaning to the interactional participants (lest they orient to wait time for an utterance to be produced – but I’m talking about deletions, opening other tabs, etc.).
I have been convinced otherwise by Meredith & Stokoe (2013). At first, I think I was promoting a kind of black-boxing, that said we would never be able to fully access the utterance production process in verbal talk. But this does not extend to online talk! They compellingly show that we easily can “see” at least some aspects of utterance production. Seeing repair-in-production is not something we even could really do with verbal talk, short of MRI scans, etc. I found that analysis (and the transcription) compelling for this reason!
Assorted thoughts & questions
Consent. I find that much of the data we read feels, to me, highly sensitive – and that this is especially true of UK contexts. What am I missing? I feel like if I asked people to participate in this facebook chat study they would never agree. Of every aspect of my scholarship, the one that produces constant anxiety in me is site access (this after years of failed studies and soured relationships with collaborators). I feel as though I will never actually be able to do empirical research because of this, and that most of my life is going to spent working theoretically. It is completely unclear to me how our faculty have gotten so many local teachers on board, etc. This is not a skill I have.
Methodological Pluralism. Yesterday, you mentioned an appreciation of methodological pluralism. I think I am having trouble balancing my methodological commitments – the ones that make me think DA is a better fit for me than multivariate statistics or ethnographies or even CA over MDA – with a general appreciation for all research. We can evaluate quality/validity/whatever in multiple ways – from “within” the research community and from a more “external” sort (traditional internal v. external conception). But if you think language cannot reveal mental structures, how do you take seriously research that claims to do this? I think it is possible, ish, but hard to navigate when you are also asked to defend your own methods so rigorously all the time. But for example I do not dismiss cognitive theory entirely – that would surely be silly. Someone should be engaging in that project – it’s just not me. But I’m still figuring out how to do that methodologically.