Educational research - from post-/structural dilemmas to communicational trilemmas

Year: 2003

Author: Ongstad, Sigmund

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This theoretical paper tries to show, by relating the so-called Sokal-debate and communicational theory to educational research, that the opposition between structual and poststructural methods seems unfruitful. The either/or as well as the restricted both/and of the two is an unfruitful opposition, that can be, if not solved, so perhaps resolved by framing research in relation to communication, not to language. Thus moving from a Saussurean understanding of the sign as oppositions between signifiers and signifieds to a Bnhlerian understanding of signs as communicative, that is, as simultaneous shifts of expression, representation and appeal, research can be seen as positively trilemmatic. Such a view is hence risky, but perhaps more fruitful, as it admits that research as focusing will leave behind a blind spot. Research methodologies should therefore be accompanied a philosophical framework. Such a frame will not remove the risk of researching education discursively, but may help different approaches to recognise their partial compatability. The approach called discursive positioning is outlined briefly, related to a model of communication. The paper ends with questions for discussion.