Sunday, April 13, 2014

CSO 302 Qualitative Research Methods, Final Examination Papers, 21 December 2004 to 11 January 2014

To skip the text below and go straight to the examination papers, click here 

As is to be expected, the past papers included in the set I am providing in this blog post reflect the subject-matter of qualitative research methods taught under course code CSO 302 -- a third-year course at the University of Nairobi. The course underscores the contribution of qualitative methods to knowledge-generation, and to the deeper understanding of the social forces operating in 21st century society. 

We can trace the origins of qualitative methods back to the deep, millennia-long, past of human existence -- the ontological/ existential/proto-naturalistic past -- which preceded even the first stage in Auguste Comte's Law of Three Stages; that is, the "theological stage." Similarly, of course, we can trace the very roots of the natural (and social) sciences as we have come to know them back to that same past.

There is clearly a determination in the course to distinguish between methods of data collection and methods of data analysis, and to go for detail. And even though (a) similar methods often appear under a variety names; and, (b) similar names are or seem to be used, on occasion, interchangeably for both data collection and data analysis, you are challenged to spot the random disguises (under a), and to both extricate 'analysis' from 'collection' and articulate the paired differences (under b). 

All this puts a high premium on conceptual clarity and empirical example. Designing an efficient taxonomy of methods, which should proceed from such clarity and example(s), remains an ever-present challenge, which you are challenged to overcome any imaginative way you can, without 'brutally' violating Bateson's (1987: 284-287) classification principles embodied in his theory of logical types. 

Read More >>> Past Papers

Reminder: To access the CSO 302 examination papers, click here 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CSO 589 Advanced Training Techniques, Past Examination Papers, 17 Aug 2000 to 28 Aug 2013

I have put together, via the link given below, a set of past papers in Advanced Training Techniques which covers the period August 17, 2000 to August 28, 2013. That's 13 years of teaching the course. Another examination is due next Wednesday, April 17th. Shall I say: "Ha! Ha! Ha!"?  No. Let me just wish you all the best, this examination season at the UoN.

To access the past papers, click here 

You may also wish to read this piece of mine on >> past papers

Past Papers

Past Papers is a powerful meme in student circles. The drive to lay one's hands on past examination papers has been around for decades, as I remember. Having them was, so it was presumed, a legitimate way to reduce the vagaries of chance in the examination room; a way to read the examiner's mind ahead of time and to 'prosper'. That is, a way to level the playing field, and thus to optimize the probable score. Did it ever work? It did, I think, for many, over the years. But it required a certain capacity for predictive deduction, a method of dealing with fuzzy or 'big' data and seeing the future that we used without knowing the term that stood for it. Let me restate that, just to stay on the point a moment longer: we practised predictive deduction long, long before we were to know that we had been engaged in it. I suppose that there are many such moments, such abductions, in all our pasts. The room for error and anxiety was always considerable, for just as many -- despite the method.

You will find more discussion of predictive deduction applications in this text. 

Lecturers at the UoN make available to their students past papers and/or other material related to their courses via one or more of the following ways: (1) selectively giving out excess originals, (2) making photocopies at their own expense for use by class (usually small classes), (3) temporarily placing scarce 'originals' in on-campus photocopy kiosks, (4) lending copies directly to class reps to enable class members to make and pay for their own copies at places of their choice, (5) distributing copies as email attachments.

The university library system is supposed to be depository of past papers from all faculties, but the service is far from satisfactory because the system simply isn't working. It won't until all the material is properly gathered at the end of each examination period, meticulously collated and classified, serialized and -- above all -- posted online. Until then, I am happy to make my past papers available on my blog, having installed my own scanning equipment at home. There is none at the office.

Still, the pressure to update sets of papers in a timely manner remains a 'clerical' challenge, what with all the other stuff that one must simultaneously do. I still send by email a good number of sets, more particularly the most recent papers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

CSO 595 ~ Natural and Technological Hazards, Past Exam Papers, 10 September 1999 to 21 December 2012

I have taught this course since 1999 to MA students (Disaster Management cluster) in the Department of Sociology, University of Nairobi. Here below is a link to past (final) examination papers for the period up to December 2012. Click here to see the questions. I invite critical comments.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

CSO 302: Qualitative Research Methods. CAT Assignment for the January-April Semester 2014

It's that time again for a CAT. Remember that, besides having attended class regularly, you will have to do some serious reading at the JKML or other library, and/or online, to answer any of the set CAT questions satisfactorily. You will know so much more after this assignment. To access the questions,  follow this link >>> CAT Questions

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Dice, the Drone and Chance: Regarding Mallarmé's CinéPoem 'Un Coup De Dés...'

Here's Mallarmé's great poem Un Coup De Dés... (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), which I will say something about in a moment. Enjoy its sweeping aestheticism. Jienjoy!
I thought about that poem by Stephane Mallarmé, which I hadn't read for decades, as I tinkered with titles for my haiku, titled Une Friendly F-Fire. Don't worry about that e. You see, I was driven by the Muse to re-read Mallarmé after I was done, and the haiku published. And I was worried whether the French title of his poem had started with 'Un' or 'Une'. The answer is the former. Perhaps 'Une', used as I have, can never be right, but I will stick with it.

[More about Haiku]

Mallarmé's poem's silky -- is there room to add, 'and simultaneously chaotic and, perhaps, byzantine'? -- texture, its charming effect on the receptive and, I think, skeptical mind alike, is as fresh and refreshing to me today as it ever was those many years ago already. And yet, what I remembered before now was the musicality. Not the centrality of the concepts dice and chance in the whole composition. I had been a (sur)face reader, then, and was still learning the ways of deep text-reading. Chance I knew, but wasn't much interested in. Civilization -- the art of war, more specifically -- had not yet compelled science to invent drones, noisy helicopters and those B52s being the closest 'cousins'. Re-reading Mallarmé precipitated a veritable conceptual clash between Dice and Drone.

But there are dark clouds ahead, so to speak. What I want to say just now -- I am very clear about this (the hint is there in the haiku) -- is that the drone, as we in the early days of the 21st century are coming to know it already, long after Mallarmé's time for sure, is not any thrower's dice. Nor is the throw of the dice -- consequential as it may often be in a 'casino' or some other betting den (smoke-filled and intense and 'levitating;) -- in the same frame of thought as the drone's. Nor are the coming generations of drones to be awaited and anticipated with the equanimity that Ebay's naivety recently inspired in media narrations of the internet of things.

I suspect that, as we inch toward and past 2050, a throw of the drone -- or of swarms of drones with the tropical bee's charged, deadly, pinpoint intensity -- from unknown or impromptu or rogue places beyond the hazy horizon, will increasingly and perhaps ceaselessly occupy and terrorize the collective mind. Why? Because of the cargo or parcels we will fear it carries and is intended to deliver, remorselessly and at no moment's notice at all -- and with no qualms. Intended, indeed, to defeat real or imagined enemies, or wreak what will turn out to be unprecedented havoc on global social order and humanity's broad sense of ontological security in deep neighborhoods, in what we have hitherto been able to know as peacetime. How long it will take humanity to return to that old, historical sense of normalcy may be the arithmetical-moral equivalent of a Hundred Years War (here's a fistful of images).

 [Read Maurice Keene (2011) "The Hundred Years War"]

The point, finally, is this: "A throw of the dice will never abolish chance", yes. But the drone, weaponized, is another kind of thing altogether. Its stealthy, unrestrained throw threatens in a fundamental way the chance to live in privacy and safety and splendid isolation [here is another conception of 'splendid isolation'] in unreachable places. Unreachable because one has quietly inherited or found or devised buffers (of Time, Space and Number) and other sorts of rings and layers and moats of protection against unexpected or unwanted intrusion. A reign of armed drones would 'abolish' any sense of national security, as average citizens have come to understand it, and would threaten to render extinct the idea that people may have of organized society free of warlords and marauders, and intruders who are too stealthy and too swift and too targeting to keep at bay. 

The drone threatens to abolish the chance of not being reached; of not being found by those whom one does not care to be found by, and cannot hide from.

Updated: March 1, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MATATU TOUT: A Public Bathing

'E stinx 2 'igh 'eav'n!
'Uyu mutu ni mbogus!
'As no rainshow'r ev'n!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Une Friendly F-Fire

Stealth hawkeman cometh!
As drone. Deadly ka-cargo.
Pok'th the north, wind. Boom!

Making Nairobi City the Greatest

About a week ago, as my wife and I shopped at The Junction, I heard a radio deejay quite unequivocally call Nairobi the greatest city in Africa. I was somewhat surprised by that unconditional claim. But it forced me to clarify my own thoughts.

Sure, few African cities have Nairobi's charm and laid-back energy -- and none, clearly, has its history and character, such as we have lived that history and shaped that character. However, being occasionally SWOT-oriented, I am only too aware of its Ws and Ts to be lulled by its Ss and Os into so categorical a stance.

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft, just now published as is

Salim Lone and the Last Days of December 2007

Salim Lone's account of the events surrounding Kenya's general elections of December 2007 appeared in the Sunday Standard of September 14th.

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

The Kenya We Don't Want

The first "The Kenya We Want" conference was held in 1962, the year before independence. The second one was held in 1980, about two years after President Daniel Arap Moi became Kenya's second President. For reasons we can guess at, his Sudanese hosts were used to calling him Arab Moi. The third "Kenya We Want Conference", convened by the Grand Coalition Government of President Mwai Kibaki an Prime Minister Raila Odinga, started yesterday and is to end tomorrow.

The Kenya ordinary Kenyans want has been known, and has not really changed, since 1962 or thereabouts. The problem is with the leaders: they say they want one thing, exactly what the "average citizen" wants, but their body languange betrays a more sinister self-centredness. They say one thing, and do and explain away another -- when the contradictions are elephant and boil over. The disconnect between word and deed leaves many citizens at once puzzled and cynical. It is not what ordinary Kenyans want that's at issue; it is what the leaders really want -- and mean by their deeds. So much so that the slogan "The Kenya We Want" has met its match in a very public refrain -- "The Kenya We Don't Want!"

Where was the idea of this obviously unnecessary and ill-timed gathering broached? Who came up with this bad and practically obscene idea? Why would anyone imagine that this was "the time"? It was obscene in that it suggested that the very same leaders the public blames for moulding a Kenya we don't want thought, even for a minute, that Kenyans are too dulled by poverty, too blinded ethnic loyalty and and too mesmerized by their self-possessed leaders to know, or to be exercised by the knowledge, that they have been betrayed by these erstwhile champions.

It's amazing how things can change in less than a year. The Grand Coalition government has not even celebrated its first anniversary, but what the public has been treated to is the moral equivalent of five to ten years of Moi-era rapacity and greed. That may sound unfair, but the bar was raised in the hey day of "Yote Yawezekana" -- by the very same leaders whom the public now roundly condemns, one month after another, for grand corruption scandals that seem to have no end.

The greed in high places is palpable. The apparent absence of conscience is troubling. The unbridled nepotism and parochialism that register on our political "Richter Scale" with nearly every major appointment to public office (by both PNU and ODM) smack of delusions of dynasty which, in the broad daylight in which we witness them (though the leaders continue as though they imagine that they operate out of sight and that there's nobody there to unravel the extreme subtlety of their moves, when in fact these moves are puerile and appear uneducated), erode irreversibly the enormous political capital that they had built and that has placed them exactly where they find themselves. But the leaders continue as though they imagine that they operate out of sights of everyone that may have something to say (an objection), and that, moreover, there's nobody there, really, to unravel the presumed subtlety of their moves -- a subtlety that increasingly impresses only them and their diehard gofers, for in fact these moves appear, to more and more observers (even in Kibera), at once clumsy and uneducated.

There are no times more ominous of changes to come -- the change that must come -- than when average citizen discover that they cleverer than the leaders who stand before them!.

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

Kenyan Olympians in Beijing

It has been ten centuries since Kenyans -- that is, since people from what is now Kenya -- caused as much stir and buzz in Beijing as they did this August. Eleven centuries, that is, if we forget for a moment the emotionally charged visit to Beijing by that Kenyan girl from the coast a few years ago.

As Philip Ochieng tells us, Kenyans have a long-standing connections with the Olympics. This connection...

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

A Foul Governmentality

It was supposed to be a somber prayer and fund-raising occasion at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre yesterday, in memory of the victims of the recent Nakumatt Downtown and Sachang'wan fire disasters; and indeed there were prayers, and some Kshs. 80,000,000 (or just over $1 millions

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

The 140 Characters: Steve Gillmor's Peroration

Gillmor defends Twitters 140 character limit against the attacks of Dave Winer and suchlike, but seems, at the start, to be spoiling for his own turn to attack Twitter. He expresses dismay at Twitter's, so to speak, ... himself

Read More: Gillmor's Peroration

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

Yambo Places

There are a number of Yambo place-names that interest and intrigue me; places that make one rethink distinctions and specificities.

Giddens says that Place and Locale, once one, have come apart, in modernity. They are remixing in various ways, though; above all in our minds, of all places, and, more and more (more or less), always.

Here's a map of a place called Yambo, Yembu, Yembo, on another continent altogether. What you do with it is a choice you have to make: Click. What I make of it is, in turn, my own choice.


The name Yambo intrigues me -- I, who bears it. It was my father's name: Yambo son of Onyalo; or, as became the habit among men of his age, Yambo sio Onyalo. In Kiswahili, that could be construed to mean: Yambo's not Onyalo, one inference being that Yambo was precisely Yambo, and not his father. Fair enough. My father named me after his own father, Onyalo, as was typically the case. The son, then, is father to the man.

But then colonialism anglicized certain namings, and, no longer grandfather, son became his own father. I acquired my father's first name as my own surname and was thus Yambo. Which is how I am known in the places, the little patches of planet, that I am mostly known today -- and as I, myself, primarily know and label myself. Yet there are still people I meet, out of the blue, from high school days who will on seeing me "instinctively" call out, just as dramatically out of the blue: "Onyalo." Onyalo is, of course, always happy to see them and to ask how they have been, knowing that many we remember have died over the years. My more numerous acquaintances of more recent decades will, however, experience both a puzzlement and a bemusement -- seeing, all of a sudden, that the brand they had all figured out kumbe has another label. It's like discovering that Coke goes by another, unexpected, call-to-order, smell-just-as-sweet name elsewhere.

What does that name, Yambo, mean? I have always wondered about its origins. When we were growing up, there was no other Yambo that we knew of. Later, the first surprise was to read about Yambo Ouologuem. Then I think I heard, perhaps via the TV, of a Yambo somewhere in Namibia. For a long time, the port of Yenbo in Saudi Arabia was simply Yenbo, nobody made the Yambo variation in its spelling, such as we see nowadays. And all of this was in the age before the Internet and search engines, and, in particular, before the Wide World Web and Google. In 1992, when a group of us visited Denmark, I saw a shop with the name Yambo Coffee one evening as we drove by. By then, I was of course already aware that there was a place at the south-western tip of the Sudan called Yambo, at the border with Cameroun and DRC.

A few years ago, I came across a question on the Internet asking someone, anyone, to please explain what the name Yambo meant. I couldn't help, but I was among the puzzled.

Here's one plausible explanation by Leoma Gilley: click here. He record that Yambo is one of several alternative names for a language spoken in both the Sudanese and the riverain Gambela Region of southwestern Ethiopia, and better known (as I have myself always "abstractly" known it) as Anuak, the language of Anuak people. As of 1998, as Gilley reports, it was spoken by a total of only 97,646 people on this planet, only slightly more (some 52,000 people) of whom were to be found in the Sudan. The other names by which Anuak is known in the Sudan are: Anyuak, Anywa, Anywak, Dho Anywaa, Jambo and Nuro. Its alternative names in Ethiopia are, besides Yambo: Anyuak, Anywa, Anywak, Bar, Burjin, Jambo, Miroy, Moojanga, Nuro and Yembo. Ethiopian dialects associated with Anuak are Adoyo, Coro, Lul and Opëno.

The Anuak people are cascadingly classified as Nilo-Saharan, Eastern, Sudanic, Nilotic, Western, Luo, Northern, Anuak. They are said to be closer to the Acholi and Luo (to the south) than the Shilluk (to the north). For a further sketch of the taxonomy of the Luo cluster of languages, click here.

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is. A more refined version was published way back.

Beyond Measure

Here's what matters:

Knowing nothing does, but that

Which will keep us wise.


Farewell to Michael Jackson

The world bade farewell to Michael Jackson on July 7th, 2009. He had died on Thursday, June 25th.

1. Click here for some memorable moments from yesterday's memorial service

Note: This is an old, incomplete draft on my blog, just now revisited, and published as is.

Bodiseye: Haiku

Eye. Very same storm.
Sea! How I enter myself.
How -- I undo tins.

I thought had published this haiku already, but I've just found it on my blog as an unpublished draft. Let's do it 'again' for whatever reason, then! Likes it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

CSO 302: Qualitative Research Methods. Course Outline. January-April 2014 Semester

To highlight the value-adding proposition of qualitative methods of social science research.
The subject-matter and historical context of qualitative research methods (QRM). The importance of qualitative methods to knowledge-generation, and understanding of the workings of diverse social forces operating in 21st century society. A selection of theoretical/methodological perspectives and debates integral to doing qualitative research, such as: ‘big data’ analytics, chronology v. dialectics, deductive-inductive-abductive reasoning, ethnomethodology, grounded theory, naturalistic observation v. participant observation, phenomenology, ontology, “rules of sociological method” and symbolic interactionism. Design, classification, and implementation of selected methods of data collection, which include: case study, comparative method, ethnography, predictive deduction, and triangulation. Qualitative data analysis methods or techniques – including comparative analysis, content analysis, hermeneutics, SWOT analysis, systematic review, and thick description – and criteria for matching them with the stated research needs and goals. Elements of proposal writing. All of these should yield insights into the systematic analysis, synthesis and reporting of actual research data. 1 Unit.

Course Outline: Click Here

Friday, January 24, 2014

CSO 595: Natural and Technological Hazards. Course Outline: January-April 2014

Course Description:
Detailed taxonomy and study of major natural and technological (human-caused) hazards; that is, potential and actual occurrences, as well as actions and substances capable of causing harm to humans, property and the environment. Matrix of disaster phases and range of stakeholders, specifying their roles and responsibilities during each phase. The human hand in major 'natural' disasters and environmental stress. Analysis of the annual global production and distribution, as well as use, of the most hazardous substances: by quantity; monetary value; companies involved; modes of transporting and storing the ingredients, intermediates and finished substances; and type of risk at every stage. Specification of high-risk technologies, toxic chemical substances (such as pesticides) and their intermediates, as well as processes, systems and modalities that pose potential or actual danger to identified African countries or regions. A discussion of the citizens' need and right to know of the danger posed to their lives, lifestyles, and property by routine activities of manufacturers, distributors, transporters, and retailers; and by the acts of omission or commission by government regulatory authorities. Inquiry into how the need and right have been articulated in different countries. A chronology of major natural and technological disasters and emergencies, and the lessons to be drawn from them in terms of prevention, prediction (early warning), response/relief, and medium- to long-term recovery and reconstruction.      1 unit.

Course Outline: Click Here

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Behold, the Child is Father to the Man"

An earlier version the comments I make below appeared only moments ago as Comment Number 7 at this link, which you are invited to visit: 

My own father used to call me, endearingly, daddy (= "Wuora") -- as though I was the very one I was named after. I never flinched at that, I don't think. It's the custom. Many fathers did, but they're a dying breed. I didn't see any paradox there. I don't do that myself, tho. For years I have thought that it was Jesus who (or some 'hid' part of the bible which) famously said something like: "Behold, the Child is Father to the Man." But it seems that Wordsworth, whom I read for the first time decades ago but have come upon too infrequently as Time has flown, was a true original with that enduring line - inspired by a rainbow.

"So that the father is also, in his own right, the child."

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Even when, even if, you're not there, 
then, you can still have a voice. 
You can still hold sway. 
Even 4 a moment -- that endures.

No one there was looking --
When I found mine.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Droppin' Jazz: Haiku

All I want's to sing.

O hazy, rash'd, dune. Dropped jaw!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Qunu, Kono: Haiku

Rolls, in a still frame. 
Alto, it's a place of grass.
Winds! What trees comb them?

[PS: For images of Qunu, click here, or here]

Friday, December 06, 2013

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013): Truest Friend of the People

In an era when national leaders, elected or armed, were preoccupied, slyly or crudely, with antics which certified them as sworn Enemies of the People, Nelson R. Mandela showed over and over again in word and deed and demeanor that he was the people's truest friend -- South African people, African people, all of the world's peoples.

His simple greatness touched four generations and spanned, uniquely, two centuries; and it moved two millennia. He was father-figure to millions -- who were fatherless. He was partial to an electrifying kind of dance. And only Madiba could dance that Mandela Dance, In the only way it could possibly be danced.

Mandela is dead but the legend lives. His legacy stays in our hearts and in our minds.

We wanted him to live forever. And so will he.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Savannah Rising: The Vid

Here's the Video: Nairobi, Nov 7, 2013: That's my granddaughter, Savannah-Joan, one month + a day before her very first birthday

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

CSO 302: Qualitative Research Methods, CAT Questions for the September-December 2013 Semester

Four CAT questions have been set. Answer two questions, one from each of two sections. The deadline is 11.00 a.m., November 30, 2013.

To access the CAT questions, go to the class email address, or click here: Click Here

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CSO 405: Sociology of Work and Industry, Course Outline, September-December 2013

This course covers: concepts, definitions and categories related to the 'anchor' notions of work and industry; the industrialization process; a selection of pertinent theories and models of work and industrialization; industrial policy in the 21st century; labour market segmentation; selected themes in industrial psychology; and aspects of Kenya's labour law.

An extensive reading list and links to useful online resources are integral to the course outline.

Now go to The Course Outline

CSO 405: Sociology of Work and Industry, CAT Questions, September-December 2013

INSTRUCTION: Answer any TWO of the following questions:

1. Discuss the importance of the following terms to the contemporary workplace in Kenya:
a) Workforce diversity
b) The contingent workforce
c) Skills-in-use versus certified skills
d) Work-Life Balance.

2. "Work and industry represent a continuum in terms of conception, organization and classification." Critically discuss this statement, supporting your answer with relevant examples and reference to specific texts (or authorities).

3.  a) What do you consider to be the main sources or explanations of unemployment in Kenya today?
     b) Suggest the main ways in which Kenya's policy-makers can significantly increase youth employment in                the next five years.

1. Released on November 10, 2013
2. Deadline for submissions: 5.30 pm on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. Submit at GW 407E
3. CAT paper length: 6 to 8 pages (size A4). These must be: word-processed, double-spaced, font 12
4. Answers should be well-researched, with clear reference to relevant authorities (check course outline)
5. Both Regular and Module II (Evening and Day) students to do this CAT.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

On the Freedom to Teach

The Association of American University Professors (AAUP) recently restated the components of the individual don's freedom to teach -- whether an entire course or only a section. This freedom, which is a good thing, is taken as a given by all self-respecting academics and their peers who, 'for a time', may happen to hold administrative positions at the departmental or higher levels. It spans the five core functions: design of the course outline (guided by a coherent, properly sequenced and formally approved curriculum), choice of learning materials, lecturing, setting of assignments and 'final' examinations, and grading.

And yet professionalism, peer review (or critical questioning) and mentoring -- untainted by administrative high-handedness or political 'policing' -- must be, and indeed are, at the core of all hopeful striving toward true, comparative excellence by individuals and their institutions.

Like all freedoms, however, the freedom to teach cannot be absolute. Why? For one, there's often mischief where and when academia is 'infiltrated' by individuals, often protected and even fast-tracked, who have no clearly discernible respect or time for high standards. Peers are supposed to raise the red flag when enough becomes enough -- and yet many are a timid and compromising lot in the fight for principles. The freedom to teach can engender only so much mediocrity before the world gives up on an institution so buried in its own sand/brand of 'sovereignty'.

Here are some details of the conversation so far:
1. The AAUP statement
2. Colleen Flaherty's account.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


IMPUNITY has a schizophrenic persona: 

1. Shy, subterranean, deep-pocketed, deadly. 

2. Boisterous, sanctimonious, doubly-obnoxious, childlike.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wild Winds: Haiku

Let de wild winds blow.
De sun shines upon de Trut.
O let de moon co!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

CSO 103 ~ Introduction to Comparative Sociology, Partial Course Outline and Reading List

[To go directly to the (updated) Reading List, click here ]

 I co-teach this course, and cover two broad topics, namely:

Topic 3: Social Control, Socialization and Deviance:
Here, we interrogate the need for social control and, additionally, cover the following subtopics:
-        Definition and Context of ‘Control’ in Society
-        Levels of control: Self and Social Control
o   Aspects of Self Control
o   Aspects of Social Control
o   Interfaces between Self Control and Social Control
-        Explaining Deviance: Sources, Patterns and Consequences
-        Social Engineering.

Topic 4: Social Differentiation, Social Stratification and Social Class:
The subtopics covered here are:
-        Conceptualizing Social Differentiation
-        Changing Social Differentiation Patterns in Africa
-        Social Stratification and Structuration
-        Social Class and the Rise of the African Middle Class.

Access the (updated Reading List by clicking here

Prof. Mauri Yambo
September-December 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Grand Theory of Business? Some Doubts

In an article which appeared  in Forbes Magazine of October 11, 2013, Jonathan Haidt and David Sloan Wilson made the interesting argument that – despite the entropy that has (inconspicuously?) eroded the assumptions that have for long underpinned classical economics – a Grand Theory of business can still/now/belatedly be constructed, using Darwin’s evolutionary principles, no less. 

Is there hope yet for Talcott Parsons, in all this? I think yes. Parsons himself was an evolutionary thinker of no mean repute (read about his evolutinary universals here). What is more, his 'grand' theory, though flawed in its sequencing of evolutionary stages, encompassed society in its broadest sense. A grand theory of business, as of economics, must -- even if coherent -- necessarily be subsumed under a one with society as a whole (an sich) as its subject matter.

Complicating even more Haidt's and Wilson's call for such a grand theory is that Marx, though Marxists of various persuasions would strenuously disagree, was, in terms of the longue duree within which he preferred to cogitate, substantially if not undeniably an evolutionary thinker -- with the economy as a whole (encompassing large 'tracts' of society and politics and history) as his 'canvas'. His (r)evolutionary 'moments' inexorably gave way to and fed into a grander evolutionary process -- from which and against which his own dialectical thinking had no conscious or even subconscious detour, or indeed departure.

Thus, Marx already had a grand theory of the economy in toto.  Though certain of its own key assumptions were to be badly battered by the sheer weight late-20th century evidence and global society's attendant worldview, his vision of the economy's future remains more comprehensive and more compelling than any grand theory of business per se can ever be expected to be. And yet, as we have seen, a grand theory of society, such as Parsons attempted, trumps both.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sensitivity Training

The goal of sensitivity (or sensitization) training is to raise participants’ awareness of the overall or context-specific sensitivities of those that they interact with at close range or at arm’s length. That is to say, the motivation in such training is to make them (or to become) more acutely aware of other’s manifest, understated or hidden (inconspicuous) sensitivities, and to act accordingly.

Candidates for sensitivity training are not necessarily innocent offenders of others’ sense of propriety and (mutual) respect. They may quite deliberately set out to offend. And yet some offend without meaning to – being unaware that certain of their utterances display prejudice or bigotry – and suffer short-term and long-term repercussions without quite realizing why or since when.

Viewed that way, sensitivity training is a knowledge-based solution for the negativities that an insensitive actor may encounter in a diversity-predicated social arena, or at the workplace. Such negativities may hamper individuals’ work-performance, jeopardize organizational operations and goal-attainment, and make for a lousy workplace.  By definition, these negativities and insensitivities play out in group settings, and are thus lodged in the broader notion of group dynamics. Thus, sensitivity training and group dynamics training overlap, at least in part.

Group dynamics, as seen by Margaret Mead, is “The social process by which people interact and behave in a group environment… [It] involves the influence of personality, power, and behaviour on the group process. [It seeks answers to these questions:] Is the relationship between individuals conducive to achieving the group’s goals? Is the structure and size of the group an asset in pursuing both the task and maintenance functions of the group? How is formal and informal power used to build consensus or reach decisions? Does the combination of individuals produce the right culture?”

Answers to these and related questions yield to researchers and trainers extant patterns and ‘regularities’ which are crucial to clarifying the status of “group effectiveness” and plotting re-design modalities.  

 Well-designed sensitivity and group-dynamics training programmes – including role-play or role-reversal, and group dynamics training – can help make amends.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On the Foundations and Evolution of Research Method and Knowledge-Creation

(Or The Origins of the Methods by which we Acquire the Knowledge of what we Know)

By Mauri Yambo

[Note: What follows is an excerpt of a much longer manuscript] 

There are, throughout history, essentially four foundations – four origins –of the methods by which humans have acquired knowledge of what they know – or believe they know. Let us first mention them, and then briefly interrogate their historical connections. The four foundations are:

1.     Naturalistic/Ontological/Existential
2.     Theological (Religio-Cultural Belief Systems)
3.     Metaphysical/Philosophical/Speculative
4.     Positivist/Scientific.
Anchored on three of these foundations are what one may call the Holy Grails of scientific knowledge generation (the fourth foundation, the theological, is excluded on rationalistic grounds):
From ‘mainstream’ Philosophy:
i.                 Deductive and Inductive Reason/Methods
ii.               Dialectics
iii.             Rationalism/Reason.
From Marx: Materialistic Conception of History (or Dialectical Materialism).
From Positivist (or Social) Philosophy and Natural Science: Positivism-cum-Empiricism -- that is, the Scientific Method.
What is the basis of the four classes of origins listed above? It is, certainly for us in Sociology, the helping hand of Auguste Comte (1798-1857). There must be other routes back to the same origins, of course. Talcott Parsons (1902-1979)[1], for example, has more recently interrogated the evolutionary universals presumably characteristic of all societies, but more on this a little later. And Comte himself owed a great debt of scholastic gratitude to his precursors in the natural sciences – particularly physics.

Widely known as a/the founding father of Sociology, Comte developed a Law of Three Stages. This Law stated that all knowledge, all scientific disciplines, societies as a whole, and even the individual mind, pass through three immutable stages as they grow from infancy to maturity, namely: Theological, Metaphysical and Positivistic. Rather obliquely, the law suggests one more thing: that the three stages also track the dialectical progression of method as we know it generically to-day. But the law ignores the first of the four stages that I have listed above. This is something the more ‘evolutionist’ Parsons is in principle not guilty of, in view of his emphasis on continuities between modern humans and the ancestors of the homo-sapiens family. That evolutionary connect is sufficient for present purposes to posit the first stage which Comte did not see, but which materialist Marx was all too aware of: the naturalistic/ontological/existential stage.

We can add this, however: if dialectics be the template for the evolution of method, and for what Foucault termed “The Order of Things”, then, contrary and superior to Comte’s arrangement, ontology is the antithesis of nothingness, and theology the synthetic result. Ontology thus predates theology, and is the first foundation of knowledge and method Theology is then followed by the metaphysical stage, and the metaphysical by the positivistic. Thus, there are not three stages/foundations in the development of method, but four.

Parsons’ notion of evolutionary universals suggests that societies evolve through a fairly consistent pattern of stages marked by distinct sets of universals. The first set – which, following his own reasoning, I have rearranged in terms of dialectical priority of emergence as: kinship, technology, communication (through language) and religion – is consistent with the notion, already touched on, that ontology precedes theology. This is particularly so when we consider the likelihood of a considerable time/“cultural” lag between the last two. Doesn't Aristotle’s ontology, too, portray being qua being as precedent to spiritual life?

  1. Naturalistic/Ontological/Existential Foundations:
Naturalistic or ontological or existential foundations of research method, and of knowledge, evoke the circumstances of that earliest period of human existence when all that could be known was known, and all the data that could be gathered was gathered, only (and only directly) through the senses – because nature gave no other options, and the technology with which to extend the reach of the senses was still in the unimagined future. In view of how human nature and culture were to evolve in the millennia that followed, it was truly a paleo-empirical world -- in which the sense of sight, “the gaze”, was already sovereign (to repeat Foucault’s emphasis). As Parsons (1964: 340) has imagined, “Vision, whatever its mechanisms, seems to be a genuine prerequisite of all the higher levels of organic evolution.” However, the other senses were also crucial to evolution, and most probably helped to trigger the language gene[2][3].

We can extend the commentary a little more, to say this. Philosophy did not create the reality of things which ontology speaks to. It merely gave it a name with, the wisdom of empirical hindsight The ontological basis of method – and the ontological content of human knowledge – were both, in the beginning, weaved out of truly elemental, down-to-earth, presences, dispositions and ‘acts’ of disparate individuals and groups, along the following lines:
1.1.Observing (‘Sense Perception’)
At the start, reality – nature, people, made-up-things, stumbled-upon things, things seen, things heard, things touched, things tasted, and things smelt (before anyone could “smell a rat”) – was and could be ‘apprehended’ only because, and insofar as, it was and could be seen, heard, touched, tasted and/or smelt – with the ‘naked’ sense-organ. It could be ‘apprehended’ because it could be observed – naturalistically. But such ‘apprehending’ was without doubt little more than intuitive, instinctive and sub-conscious in the beginning. Yet that was a vital start. It took a substantial while for the apprehension to evolve a narrative structure (that is, form and content), and for the narrative to become, in the language and the thought-process in which it was couched, coherent. [Marx and Engels (2000: 3) couch this ontological imperative of the human condition in terms of "The first premises of all history" and the "first fact"]

So what we now call ‘naturalistic observation’ is clearly the front-runner and pathfinder among the observational methods which humans have used throughout the ages to gain knowledge. It has evolved variants such as astronomy, participant observation (or ethnography), surveillance, monitoring (including CCTV monitoring), surveying and “intelligence”.

Observing could go, and typically went, hand-in-hand with doing. One could observe the doing – on the go. And one could likewise do what one observed in another’s or others’ doings. Those tentative, prehistoric acts were the precursors of practices and habits and experimentation – as well as the ancestors of the habits, customs, cultures, professions and disciplines – that have made the motley world what it has become. Doings are the building-blocks of culture and social structure. Ontologies, doings and happenings are thus the starting points of all our narratives, all our hermeneutic postures, and all history.

1.3.Experiencing (Feeling)
Experience is, at root, existential. We experience states of being and emotional states , happenings and doings, which we or others come to narrate in whatever way for immediate purposes, and sometimes for deep posterity – which will thus know us but which we will really never know. Feeling happy, sick, angry, fearful/afraid, safe, good – these are emotions and conditions we are driven to take stock of, observing clumsily or with varying degrees of clarity, depth, understanding, and even eloquence. Experiencing pain, grief, defeat, victory – and breakthrough – is all ingrained in the human condition, which we try to make sense of and articulate lessons from.

Telling is a re-enactment or codification in narrative form of that which we or others have observed, done and/or experienced. It is thus the summation, of sorts, of all of ontology’s four manifestations, including itself, and of all that ontology means and makes possible. Often, we interrogate in order to narrate, and do tell (and thus affirm) by way of an interrogation. A good telling is a “closing of the loop”, and a hard thing to do. Fast-forward and you realize that, in a sense, ethnomethodology is a wonderful kind of telling. So is thick description. So is mythology and poetry and drama and the novel. History is a telling, in its dialectical as well as chronological renditions and traditions. The epic and all the sagas of the world are a telling. Music and painting are a telling, and so is sculpture. Monuments are a telling, too. And thus all stories are by definition already told. 
2. ‘Theological’ Foundations

When was the theological stage predominate? From the moment in antiquity that the memes of the maker (of things out of ontological things) and the creator (of Being out of Nothingness, if I may rephrase Marcuse) entered and sufficiently seized the human mind, all the way up to the Age of Reason (the Enlightenment Age) in the 16th to 18th Centuries. This brief answer adds to the overall weight of evidence which, as earlier indicated, shows that Comte’s Law of Three Stages did not capture the sequence of stages of interest as discretely (or correctly) as it so emphatically suggested. In other words, his three ‘stages’ displayed, and continue to display, considerable and even overwhelming temporal overlaps – and sequence distortions. ‘Theology’, or more correctly religion, did emerge prior to philosophy, but has had a long history of co-presence, and a rich symbiotic relationship, with philosophy. It has not ceased to be, even in the positivistic stage. So it is safer to see the stages as more-or-less localized periods of dominance, even though the term dominance can itself be disputed on certain persuasive grounds.

The crucial point here is this: During a very long period of human existence, the template or prism through which humans observed, interpreted and explained their experiences in the world was theological. That is to say, God (and the gods) were the ultimate causality – the necessary and sufficient source of all happenings (as well as all causes and all effects), and the anchor of all explanations and all unquestionable beliefs.  The dominant world-view was dogmatic. Over time, however, contrarian narratives and reason emerged, fuelled by the desire for a more persuasive truth – a desire born in part at least by accumulating contradiction between ontology or experience and the body of knowledge that one was called upon to believe unquestioningly.

3.Philosophical/Metaphysical Foundations
This stage overlapped in at least two phases with the Theological Stage. The first phase represents the age of the great Greek philosophers and their successors – from around 470 BC to 322 BC – which found itself implanted in a still overwhelmingly religious, Delphi-leaning,  epoch . Thus:
n  Socrates: 470-399 BC
n  Plato: 428/6-348/7 BC
n  Aristotle: 384-322 BC.

The second phase – the Age of Reason or The Enlightenment – ran from the 16th Century to the 18th. This was the age of Rousseau, Voltaire, Hegel and their contemporaries. It was the age of the French Revolution. Religion might have already begun to cede ground, in a very palpable way, to Reason, but could not be shaken off.

Leedy (1980: 41), who is by no means a giant in the field, makes the memorable observation that:
“In all of mankind’s long history, we have devised only two ways to seek the unknowable [I prefer to say, “the unknown”]. One of these is by means of deductive logic, the other is by means of inductive reasoning, or what is familiarly called the scientific method.” [Here is an excerpt of the 1974 edition of Leedy's book]

Only two ways! All of humankind! That is the kind of remark which, if taken at face value or uncritically, appears like a great revelation. But the truth is that the two ways that Leedy has in mind are only the classical philosopher’s; and we will see momentarily that the Deduction-Induction twins just may have a distant relative – that is, Abduction – representing a third way.

Rottenberg (1994: 207)[4] credits Aristotle with being “the first” to give “formal expression” through his treatises (some 2,500 years ago) to the process by which humans reason – that is, the “reasoning process.” Aristotle, she notes , suggested that there were two types of reasoning – inductive and deductive. We use these two types of reasoning as the alternative ways to discover Truth. In other words, we use them to observe the world, select impressions, make inferences and generalize (see Rottenberg, 1994: 207). But Aristotle was aware that neither of these two approaches was error-free. At certain stages in the “reasoning process,” we are prone to error.

Deductive (Aristotelian) Logic:  

Here are some definitions to clarify the deductive method:

Deduction = “The principle [procedure] of reasoning from general principles to particular instances” (Theodorson and Theodorson, p. 104). [In deductive reasoning, “specific hypotheses or predictions are derived from broader theoretical principles” T & T, ibid). [This happens a lot, as is to be expected, in literature review; especially the review of theoretical literature]

Deductive Reasoning = Reasoning by deducing, or inference from general to particular; a priori reasoning (see Oxford Dictionary, 1964). [A priori = self-evident, unfettered by the rule of empirical proof]

Deductive Learning: “commences with the rule or principle (theory) which is subsequently applied by the learner” (Cole, 1997: 266); or “where the individual works forward from some hypothesis or other, tests it in practice and obtains results – new experiences” (Cole, 1995: 143).

Deductive Argument = “A deductive argument proceeds from a general statement that the writer assumes to be true to a conclusion that is more specific” (Rottenberg, 1994: 219). [Rottenberg (1994: 212) believes, moreover, that unlike induction which “attempts to arrive at the truth, deduction guarantees sound relationships between statements...called premises.”]

Deduction (Ghosh, 1985: 47) = “the process of drawing generalisation, through a process of reasoning on the basis of certain assumptions which are self-evident or based on observation. In deduction, we deduce generalisations from universal to particular...The main task of deductive logic is to clarify the nature of [the] relation between premises and conclusions in valid arguments.”

The deductive approach is said to have been dominant up to the time of Renaissance. Leedy (1980: 41), for example, notes that “Up to the time of the Renaissance, insight into most problems was sought by means of deductive logic...It relied upon logical reasoning and began with a major premise. This was a statement, similar to an axiom, which seemed to be a self-evident and universally truth: Man is mortal; God is good; the earth is flat.” But the danger is that this major premise may be a “pre-conceived idea” or “preconceived conclusion” (Leedy, 1980: 42) – a ‘dogmatic’ statement – which does not turn out to be true (or grounded) in fact, in which case the conclusions arrived at will be invalid (see Leedy, 1980: 41).

In its simplest form, a deductive argument [a syllogism] has three parts: A major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. Where each premise is true, then “the conclusion must be true. Unlike the conclusions from induction, which are only probable, the conclusions from deduction are certain” (Rottenberg, 1994: 212). [SYLLOGISM = “a formula of argument consisting of three propositions”: the major premise, the minor premise and the conclusion (see Rottenberg, 1994:213, quoting a dictionary)]

Remember: such a deductive conclusion is deemed to be “certain.” It is considered to be “valid” – that is, to derive from a valid “reasoning process” or a valid form of argument. It is “logically consistent because it follows necessarily from the premises. No other conclusion is possible” (Rottenberg, 1994: 212). However, a form of argument may be valid but the “argument itself” may not satisfy [and will not be indisputable] “if the premises are not true” (Rottenberg, 1994: 212). Thus, “The deductive argument is only as strong as its premises” (Rottenberg, 1994: 213).

Ghosh (1985) had earlier made a similar argument, as follows: The logical validity (“implication”) of an argument “does not depend upon the material [i.e. factual] truth of the premises. The premises may be materially false, but yet the reasoning may be correct” (Ghosh, 1985: 47). [For example (adapted from Ghosh (1985: 48): Democracies have no kings or queens. Britain is a democracy. Therefore, Britain has no king or queen]. However, the truthfulness/validity of a conclusion depends on the “material truth of the premises.”

Inductive Reasoning:

Here, once again, are useful definitions:

Induction = “a process of reasoning whereby we arrive at universal generalisations from particular facts. Induction gives rise to empirical generalisations, and is opposite to deduction. Induction involves a passage from observed to unobserved. Induction involves two processes – observation and generalisation” (Ghosh, 1985: 48).

Induction = “the form of reasoning in which we come to conclusions about the whole on the basis of observations of particular instances” (Rottenberg, 1994: 208). Rottenberg (1994: 211) adds that “An inductive argument proceeds by examining particulars and arriving at a generalization that represents a probable truth.” Moreover, in inductive reasoning, “the reliability of your conclusion depends on the quantity and quality of your observations (Rottenberg, 1994: 208).

Induction = “the process of reasoning from individual instances to general principles” (Theodorson and Theodorson, Dictionary of Sociology, p.199). That is to say, induction means generalization from specific facts; from individual occurrences to general cases. Thus, the experimental method is inductive, since general conclusions derive from individual observations (p. 199). Indeed, T & T observe that “Most sociological studies are” inductive in orientation (p. 200). [But remember that sociological methodology insists that, for such generalizations to hold (to be valid), the sample of individual cases to which empirical attention is paid during both data collection and analysis must be representative (that is, as a totality, a microcosm) of the ‘general cases’ (that is, the population or ‘parameters’ to which the sample refers). One seeks to ensure this at the sampling stage]

Inductive Learning:“the process in which the learner experiences an event or stimulus and draws a conclusion from it, for example some rule or guiding principle” (Cole, 1997: 266); or “where the individual experiences an event, attempts to puzzle it out, and then draws conclusions about it, perhaps in terms of a guiding rule or principle” (Cole, 1995: 142-3).

Abductive Reasoning/Method:

In his Collected Papers, Charles Peirce (1934/1935: 106), who coined the term, defines abduction as "the process of forming an explanatory hypothesis" and adds, importantly, that "every single item of scientific theory which stands established today has been due to abduction." Much has since been written about abduction, which is nowadays commonly characterized as "inference to the best explanation."

For three useful readings on abduction, and its wide application-potential as well as nearness to induction, click on these links:
1. Douven, Igor, "Abduction", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition)
2. Thagard. Paul and Cameron Shelley (1997) "Abductive Reasoning: Logic, visual thinking and coherence"
3. Anonymous Author Wikipedia, A characterization of abduction that I find to be close to Anonymous Author's is to be found in the 'preliminary version' of Hector J. Levesque's article titled "A Knowledge-level account of abduction".

Douven’s (2011) definition of abduction is hard to pin down in a quick quote, but the illustrations in his “General Idea” do clarify the abductive process for those just coming upon the concept. 

Thagard and Shelley (1997), in their densely-argued and well-referenced article, define abductive reasoning as "reasoning in which explanatory hypotheses are formed and evaluated." At the heart of abductive reasoning, they argue, "is the goal of assembling a set of hypotheses (causes) that provide good explanations of the data (effects)." Viewing abductive reasoning that way, they see its applicability in many "important kinds of intellectual tasks, including medical diagnosis, fault diagnosis, scientific discovery, legal reasoning, and natural language understanding." 

According to an Anonymous Author in the Wikipedia link above, abduction is a form of logical inference that goes from observation to a hypothesis that accounts for the reliable data (observation) and seeks to explain relevant evidence.” On the other hand, abductive reasoning is seen to have the quality of a logical fallacy – the fallacy of attributing an effect (which may be there for all to see) to one’s preferred cause, which not everyone may accept as true, or which may be countervailed by more robust explanations for the “effect” observed by all. Thus, abduction:

allows inferring a as an explanation of b. Because of this inference, abduction allows the precondition a to be abduced from the consequence b. Deductive reasoning and abductive reasoning thus differ in the direction in which a rule like ‘a entails b is used for inference. As such, abduction is formally equivalent to the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (or Post hoc ergo propter hoc) because of multiple possible explanations for b” (Anonymous Author, Wikipedia)

According to Business Dictionary, abduction is “The type of reasoning whereby one seeks to explain relevant evidence by beginning with some commonly well known facts that are already accepted and then working towards an explanation.” 

In sum, abductive reasoning is the kind of logic which tends to yield a backward-looking conclusion (about the cause of an effect) that is – more often than not, perhaps – not necessarily true or valid [Instead of backward-looking, Shanahan (I have just noted) uses the term "backwards projection (explanation)"]. But abduction often makes valid inferences as well, just as weather forecasting aka predictive deduction does. In weather forecasting, next fortnight’s actual weather may be predicted (explained?) – a prediction/ explanation which turns out to be more or less accurate – on the basis of a juxtaposition of elements of the looming (“over the horizon”) weather on past patterns or trends recorded in a ‘big’ database (which is typically not accessible or explained to the general public), and inferring (or finding) a match[5]. Q: When you predict the weather, are you engaged in explanation or simply deduction?

There is evidently both good and bad abduction, as Charles Sanders Peirce suggested. Good abduction is uncertainty-reducing, for sure. Bad abduction may be the source of much anguish, as we have consistently seen in the Kenyan and US political arenas in both 2012 and 2013. The challenge is how to consistently avoid bad abduction in lay and scientific conversations.

4.Positivistic Foundations of Method:

The Positivistic era had its roots in the Copernican Revolution of the 16th century, deep inside the metaphysical stage, which in principle preceded it. Like the Copernican Revolution itself, Positivism took some 2 to 3 centuries to take hold; that is, up to the early 19th century.

Before the 19th century, the process by which humans discovered knowledge/truth was, generally, dominated by religious and cultural dogma – and by DEDUCTIVE reasoning. The dogma tended to invalidate the DEDUCTION, but not so, conceivably, among the Bushmen (Kung) of the Kalahari. In the 19th century, positivism emerged as a key aspect of social philosophy and social theory (Giddens, 1976)[6].

Let us return briefly to what we were saying about inductive reason, in order to underscore in this section its connections with positivism and science.

Inductive Reasoning “begins, not with a preconceived conclusion – a major premise – but
with an observation” (Leedy, 1980: 42). He (1980: 42) adds that “Renaissance man began
seeking truth by looking steadfastly at the world around him. He started asking questions of
Nature. And Nature responded in the form of observable fact.”

In other words, as Leedy (1980: 42) suggests, the intellectual appeal of inductive reasoning during the Renaissance period was fuelled by “an interest in humanism” and by a pragmatic or empiricist orientation toward “this world and ... its phenomena” – both of which were characteristic of that period. Thus:
“Renaissance man soon found that when facts are assembled and studied dispassionately, they frequently suggest hitherto undiscovered truth. Thus, was the scientific method born; and the words mean literally ‘the method that searches after knowledge’ (scienta = L. knowledge, from scire, L. to know)” (Leedy, 1980: 42)

This scientific method (and methodology) underwent considerable development in the 16th century as a result of the work of a number of scholars/thinkers, including: Leonardo, Copernicus, Galileo, Vesalius and Vittorino da Feltre (Leedy, 1980: 42).

Back to positivism:

By positivism Giddens understands:

1.         The view that all knowledge derives from, or pertains to, a reality which we can apprehend or confirm [ontologically] only through the senses [of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste].
2.         The view that the methods and logic of science, as exemplified by "classical physics", are equally applicable to the study of human society (Giddens, 1976: 130).

Giddens further notes that:
"In the writings of Comte [1798-1857] and Marx [1818-1883] alike, the science of social life was to complete the freeing of the human spirit from religious dogmas and the customary, unexamined beliefs men had about themselves" (Giddens, 1976: 130).

Thus, Western science differs from most types of religious and magical practices [or even lay epistemologies] in the following three ways, among others [But one may pose a 'counter-question': Is Western science a homogeneous worldview characteristic of the entire West? If so, what are its key characteristics? If not, in what specific ways do given non-western cosmologies differ from leading or specific versions or traditions of Western science?]:
1.         Science treats observed phenomena in 'nature' as the manifestations ('outcome') of impersonal forces -- not the "personalized gods, spirits or demons" characteristic of "most" non-western religious and magical systems (Giddens, 1976: 139).
2.         Science institutionalizes the process by which theory is formulated and scientific observations conducted; and, moreover, makes a "public display" of the whole process. That is to say, scientific work is, ideally, legitimated through "free debate and critical testing" (Giddens, 1976: 139). This legitimating characteristic of science (at the core of which is critical, public scrutiny) is lacking in most religious doctrines, argues Giddens (1976: 139).
3.         Science does not involve, as religion and magic often do, “...forms of activity that are alien to western science: including worship in regularized ceremonial, propitiation and sacrifice” (Giddens, 1976: 139)[7].

But Giddens recounts how, following the erosion (in the early 20th century) of faith in scientific knowledge “as exemplar of all knowledge,” there emerged two contesting philosophical camps[8] in the 1920s and 1930s: [1] the logical positivists, who championed the cause of natural science (“scientific rationalism,” scientific knowledge); and [2] the phenomenological and linguistic philosophers who saw natural science's “claims to knowledge [as] secondary to, and dependent upon, ontological premises of the natural attitude” (Giddens' words, emphasis MY's) [Natural attitude = "authority of common sense", ibid].  Anthropologists were at the forefront of this change, touting the merits of the natural attitude. A natural attitude toward knowledge, it was argued, was the most important way to uncover the truth.

It can be argued, then, that the tilt (or re-tilt) toward the natural attitude, which is the bedrock of Qualitative Research Methodology, was the result of a SWOT analysis of the scientific attitude (or “scientific rationalism”) – with its quantitative orientation.

Around the same time as this theoretical debate was going on, moreover, the practice of qualitative research was in vogue in the United States (see, for example, W.I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki The Polish Peasant in America and Europe). [For a vey recent (2008) example of qualitative analysis, see Malcolm Gladwell’s account (in Outliers) of an Italian community in early 20th century Pennsylvania, USA: It is an account of how the community’s health profile was documented (see “The Roseto Mystery”, pp. 3.12). 

So, one Rationality or Many Rationalities?
[The ‘rationality of science’ (or the ‘scientific attitude’) versus the ‘rationality of
commonsense’ (or the ‘natural attitude’)]

The ‘Rationality of Science’ (or of the ‘Scientific Attitude’): One Rationality
This is the perspective adopted in Weber's study of rational action, which suggests that there is but one standard of rationality. It uses specific means-ends criteria – such as the operational definition of concepts, the representativeness of cases/samples, universality and generalizability of claims – to explain social phenomena. And it explains motivated action using the observer's criteria, and, contrary to the lay actor’s approach to observed reality, entails “the suspension of the belief that things are as they appear” (Giddens, 1976: 35).

The ‘Rationality of Commonsense’ (the ‘Natural Attitude’): Many Rationalities
According to Garfinkel, and Giddens, there are many common-sense rationalities which pertain to the daily rhythm of lay life – as opposed to the demands of social science (Giddens, 1976: 35-36). Reality is socially constructed, as Berger and Luckman suggested.

The concept and practice of ethnomethodology are undergirded by the view that, to paraphrase Giddens (1976: 36), the way that people organize and live their everyday lives is identical to the way that they understand and explain their life experiences; that is, identical to the procedures that they use to explain to themselves and even to others what they see and experience.

Consequently, the differences between Sociology and Natural Science can be highlighted as follows, as suggested by Giddens (1976: 146):
1.         Sociology uses the inductive conclusion with more tact, greater laterality of vision and thinking, as well as the acknowledgment of precursors, unlike natural science which relies entirely on narrowly defined reason
2.         Unlike natural science, Sociology “stands in a subject-subject relation to its ‘field of study,’not a subject-object relation”
3.         Sociology, adopting ethnomethodology’s stance, strives to understand and interpret a world that is already “pre-interpreted… by active subjects … [whose pre-interpretations feature materially in the] …the actual constitution or production of that world”]
4.         Social theory construction, like the general apprehension of social reality “involves a double hermeneutic”[9] – which is not seen in other disciplines (Giddens, 1976: 146).
5.         Sociological generalizations are by definition more nuanced and at great variance with the laws of natural science.

[4] Annette T. Rottenberg (1994) Elements of Argument: A Text and Reader. Fourth Edition. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press.
[5] This sounds like a tautology!
[6] Anthony Giddens. 1976. New Rules of Sociological Method: A Positive Critique of Interpretative Sociologies. London: Hutchinson.
[7] For a detailed discussion of the differences between science and religion/magic see Horton, Robert and Ruth Finnegan. 1973. Modes of Thought. London: Faber.
[8] The two camps have been likewise labeled by Giddens as: The Rationality of Science v. the Rationality of Common Sense
[9] Double Hermeneutic = Double Interpretation. In Double Interpretation, the Observer interprets the words/behavior/actions of the Observed/Respondent, who likewise interprets the Observer’s “seduction” [MY] – and so on.