Teacher Response to Homework #3: Fixing the Field

Grades on Blackboard, as per the norm.

My agenda in this class is becoming clear

I have joked in this class that your job after the class is to go out and fix the field, but actually I am completely serious about this. In order for TPC to continue to grow, future generations of scholars must do better at theory-building than we have thus far. As Alvesson-Karreman state, a lot of what we call “theory” in our field is perhaps better characterized as “conjecture.”

This is because the working assumptions behind our theories are not always clear. Take the ANT vs. AT divide, for instance. Each of these theories has a long history of development and carries with it very specific assumptions about what conclusions theorists can draw from using them. It’s not that we can’t continue to use these theories, or hopefully extend them, it’s that folks seem to see them, and many theories, as interchangeable.

This is a huge problem for our discipline. A theory is more than just a working assumption, you see, it’s a way of constructing a discipline. Theory is what we use to communicate the norms of our discipline to each other, including how we conduct research, how we teach, and how we make knowledge. We need to make these norms much more apparent, probably through meta-level research that looks at all the published works in our field. Without this kind of apparency, our field is a minefield of theoretical factions that don’t talk to each other.

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