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Unformatted text preview: object, and discourse are mutually constituted The term “object” refers to the entity being studied. Mainstream social science follows a model similar to that employed in natural science in its study of objects such as rocks, soil, heat, and light where science is viewed as “the mirror of nature” (Rorty, 1979). The mirror model assumes that science can accurately reflect objects in society. But social science is not a passive mirror. The society we gaze at, and reflect upon is discursively constructed. For science speaks, defines, classifies, divides, rank orders, judges, and constructs. Science assumes that objects of inquiry contain stable internal characteristics, which can be objectively examined, and that data can be collected to test hypotheses about these objects. Following that model, mainstream social science claims that its descriptions of culture, class, race, social mobility, poverty, and development are neutral, unbiased, objective, and value‐free. That is why surveys and 20 quantitative techniques are such valued and common methods of analysis. The social science investigator (the subject) stands outside the object employing a neutral discourse when studying the object. Of course, the relations between subject and object go beyond such functions of investigation; they also include diagnoses, policy recommendations, and the implementation of projects (Natter, Schatzski, and Jones 1995). Social science uses the term “subject” in a variety of senses. Here I refer to subject as thinking agent and as observer. In the specific context of social science, the term refers to authors, professors, consultants, students, policy makers, extension agents, volunteers, social workers, and even institutions such as The World Bank, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations), and NGOs (non‐governmental organizations). Objects of social science do not have “naively‐given” properties that are “just there” to be described by social scientists; the objects are, in fact, constructed by the subj...
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This document was uploaded on 01/24/2014.

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