Theory and Educational Research
Toward Critical Social Explanation
By Jean Anyon
Routledge – 2009 – 220 pages
Series: Critical Youth Studies
Most empirical researchers avoid the use of theory in their studies, providing data but little or no social explanation. Theoreticians, on the other hand, rarely test their ideas with empirical projects. As this groundbreaking volume makes clear, however, neither data nor theory alone is adequate to the task of social explanation—rather they form and inform each other as the inquiry process unfolds. Theory and Educational Research bridges the age-old theory/research divide by demonstrating how researchers can use critical social theory to determine appropriate empirical research strategies, and extend the analytical, critical – and sometimes emancipatory – power of data gathering and interpretation.
Each chapter models a theoretically informed empiricism that places the data research yields in constant conversation with theoretical arsenals of powerful concepts. Personal reflections following each chapter chronicle the contributors’ trajectories of struggle and triumph utilizing theory and its powers in research. In the end this rich collection teaches education scholars how to deliberately engage with critical social theory in research to produce work that is simultaneously theoretically inspired, politically engaged, and empirically evocative.
"This volume scrubs the mystique off social theories, making them accessible and even agreeable to a much wider audience, thus opening up immeasurable opportunities for future creative application. As instructor and students, we could not recommend this book more highly."--International Journal of Qualititative Studies in Education 2009
"This has been a valuable book for me, and I recommend it to anyone considering using social theory in their research, particularly doctoral students."--Joseph A. Maxwell, Education Review, January 2010
Introduction: Critical Social Theory, Educational Research, and Intellectual Agency, Jean Anyon
Part I – Theory and Explanatory Analysis
1. Critical Social Theory and the Study of Urban School Discipline: The Culture of Control in a Bronx High School, Kathleen Nolan
2. Theorizing Student Poetry as Resistance to School-based Surveillance: Not Any Theory Will Do, Jen Weiss
3. Theorizing Redistribution and Recognition in Urban Educational Research: ‘How Do We Get Dictionaries at Cleveland?’ Michael J. Dumas
Part II – Theorizing with Research Participants
4. Theorizing Back: An Approach to Participatory Policy Analysis, Eve Tuck
5. Low-income Latina Parents, School Choice, and Pierre Bourdieu, Madeline Perez
6. Queer Theory and Teen Sexuality: Unclear Lines, Darla Linville
Epilogue, Michelle Fine
Jean Anyon is Professor of Social and Educational Policy in the Urban Education Doctoral Program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.