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Comparative gaze: Toward a critical theory of comparison

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Abstract:

This research is a theoretical investigation into assumed epistemological foundations that have shaped the methodologies and conducts of comparative education researches. Its objectives are to critically re-examine this particular mode of human reasoning and method of scientific inquiry in its genealogy in Western intellectual thoughts, and to discuss how the crafting of researches through the use of comparison as a conceptual tool, together with our metaphysical and ontological assumptions with regard to the characteristics of educational phenomenon, have shaped comparative data and hence comparative knowledges that we generate.

In order to take stock of critiques that have been raised across disciplines against the neutrality of comparative method, this study examines the works of thinkers in such fields as philosophy, anthropology, sociology, history, and feminist research. One major source of theoretical inspiration that surfaces from this cross-disciplinary literature review and informs this inquiry is John Dewey’s pragmatist understanding of scientific inquiry process that places emphasis on the contingency of knowledge acquisition on the already existing cultural web by which a researcher is always mediated. This also resonates with feminist critiques of scientific “gaze” with which a researcher approaches her subject of research.

In conclusion, the research argues that intellectual endeavor for a more critical and rigorous method of comparative education research should first and foremost be directed at a thorough investigation into and hence a deeper recognition on the inevitably political nature of our conceptual tools, without slipping into a state of extreme relativism and anti-scientific thinking. This requires for comparative education researchers to develop a deeper consciousness on one’s epistemological assumptions that shape one’s vision as a researcher, and engage comparison as a serious subject of scientific inquiry rather than a mere methodological issue.
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Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493901_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Furukawa, Norihide. "Comparative gaze: Toward a critical theory of comparison" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493901_index.html>

APA Citation:

Furukawa, N. , 2011-05-01 "Comparative gaze: Toward a critical theory of comparison" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493901_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This research is a theoretical investigation into assumed epistemological foundations that have shaped the methodologies and conducts of comparative education researches. Its objectives are to critically re-examine this particular mode of human reasoning and method of scientific inquiry in its genealogy in Western intellectual thoughts, and to discuss how the crafting of researches through the use of comparison as a conceptual tool, together with our metaphysical and ontological assumptions with regard to the characteristics of educational phenomenon, have shaped comparative data and hence comparative knowledges that we generate.

In order to take stock of critiques that have been raised across disciplines against the neutrality of comparative method, this study examines the works of thinkers in such fields as philosophy, anthropology, sociology, history, and feminist research. One major source of theoretical inspiration that surfaces from this cross-disciplinary literature review and informs this inquiry is John Dewey’s pragmatist understanding of scientific inquiry process that places emphasis on the contingency of knowledge acquisition on the already existing cultural web by which a researcher is always mediated. This also resonates with feminist critiques of scientific “gaze” with which a researcher approaches her subject of research.

In conclusion, the research argues that intellectual endeavor for a more critical and rigorous method of comparative education research should first and foremost be directed at a thorough investigation into and hence a deeper recognition on the inevitably political nature of our conceptual tools, without slipping into a state of extreme relativism and anti-scientific thinking. This requires for comparative education researchers to develop a deeper consciousness on one’s epistemological assumptions that shape one’s vision as a researcher, and engage comparison as a serious subject of scientific inquiry rather than a mere methodological issue.


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