The Dilemma of Methodological Idolatry in Higher Education Research: The Case of Phenomenography

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The premise of this chapter is that methodological ‘tribes’ in higher education create ‘territories’ of research practice that do little to encourage those new to research to reconceptualise methodology. This premise is based upon the perceived absence of dialogic space, beyond an expert academic community, that would allow open critique of the degree to which research methodologies make sense for those ‘on the ground’. As such, it is argued that practices of this nature signify methodological process over genuine debate around methodological theory, which can serve to encourage methodological idolatry. Phenomenography has been selected, and analysed, in this chapter as an example of a research methodology used in higher education, in order to reveal both the encoded messages of phenomenography and the layering of meaning that such messages convey. The chapter concludes by arguing for a repositioning of research methodologies as ontologically coherent heuristic devices that enable us to generate and test theory, rather than as processes of discovery that may lead us to unsubstantiated claims of knowledge generation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheory and Method in Higher Education Research II
EditorsJeroen Huisman, Malcolm Tight
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
ISBN (Print)9781783509997
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameInternational Perspectives on Higher Education Research


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