empirical study Recent blog posts

empirical study

I am shifting a completely theoretical work to the beginning of empirical testing of the theorized applied dialectical method.



This empirical study consists of conducting semi-structured interviews with colleagues from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) who have been interacting with me on regular basis during my two years visit. The semi-structured interviews are to be focused on the way in which I have been interacting with these colleagues over my residence here. It is intended to test empirically the way in which I lived and developed my theory of an applied dialectical method at NMMU between June 2012 and June 2014. The theorised applied dialectical method is that of an actual empirical method of studying and conceptualising the phenomena of the human subject, being human, and human existence through participants learning to qualitatively transform and empower their lives and accounting for their learning and transformation. A narrative of how and why I worked out this theory and theorised applied dialectical method and moved to and took on a visit to NMMU is attached here in this proposal. The narrative includes an account of the rationale of this proposed study: why this study of the way in which I am interacting with others – my academic NMMU colleagues from June 2012 and June 2014 in this case - and the direct personal experiences of my NMMU colleagues of my interaction with them and the way in which I am interacting with them and have been interacting with them from June 2012 to June 2014 is so valid, valuable and important.


This empirical testing and unpacking my theories is done in order to transform my embodied theory of this applied dialectical method that I worked out on myself in Israel and the U.K into an actual empirical method that can be used by researchers globally and independently of me. I worked out the theory based on my ontological needs, values and intentions and self-studying, as the sole participant. The theorised dialectical transformation consists of building up intense and aggressive dialectical tension and stimulation in and of fusing and using contradictions and shifting and transforming the reflections and reflective enquiries of participants into their lives into dialogues and dialogical co-enquiries with other people. It was so because I need constant intense and aggressive stimulation for my wellbeing and am feeling lost, insecure and depressed without it.


The study aims to check and re-evaluate the way I interact with other people in the very different socio-cultural and historical context of South Africa. A list of leading questions for semi-structured conversations (interviews) and of NMMU colleagues who have been interacting with me throughout my visit have been devised and will be piloted and tested. The aim is for me to be able to generate empirical data of the following: Were my interactions with colleagues at NMMU as transformative, stimulating, enriching and dialogical as I intend/perceived them to be? Do my assumptions work in South Africa? How do I balance between my idea of a transformative, stimulating and enriching dialogue and dialogical co-enquiring of equal relationships, free of impositions, assertion and assertiveness, and my idea of creating, releasing and transforming dialectical tension for growth, learning and educational, ontological and epistemological empowerment and stimulation? Does what work on and for me also work for other people? Does it work in South Africa? Does it really work for me? An account of the objectives, research questions, design, method and methodology is attached here in this proposal. A first draft of the leading questions for the semi-structured interviews is attached.


The feedbacks of the participants on their experiences of the nature of my interactions with them will be analysed. Common and repeated themes will be generated and re-evaluated as will be disagreements and differences among the responses. Conclusions will be made as for how to turn an embodied theory of an applied dialectical method into an actual empirical method that is removed and disembodied from me, my needs and values, and my socio-cultural identity and context. I shall make everything I can to internalise the findings of the study and use it in my development and improvement of my method, taking it away from me and into being the empirical method that construction and validation were my intention over the last three decades. I shall also use the data and the empirical evidence from the semi-structured interviews to learn to transform and to show how I have used the data and evidence from the semi-structured interviews to dialectically transform myself, my social interactions, my theory, values and work, learning, quality of life, self-satisfaction and empowerment. I shall run the study again in one or two years to see if there is a qualitative transformation in the way in which I interact with my colleagues and in the colleagues’ experiences of my interaction with them and how much learning I pursued and internalized as a result of this study; and in turn, what they gained from this experiment. I shall use the components of my method and look at the participants’ responses on my possible transformation. Do I display evidence of transformation and learning? What is the evidence? What is the degree of transportation? And how can we better quantify these results? 


Furthermore, a series of experimental studies and quantitative analysis (multivariate statistics) will be inculcated with the qualitative research and analysis. Likert questionnaires will be administered and the participants’ responses will be tested for significance and analysed.The questionnaires aim to find out whether my interaction was experienced by the participants as dialogical, imposing (one-sided) or dialectical. The participants’ experiences of my interaction with them are placed as i. Enriching, ii. Imposing, iii. alienating, iv. transforming, v. pleasant, vi. educational, vii. Questioning and formulating the most suitable questions, viii. engaging, ix. caring, x. trustful, xi. Transforming personal reflections. Enriching, pleasant, engaging, caring and trustful are the criteria for a dialogical interaction. Formulating the most suitable questions, transforming personal reflection, and transformative are the criteria for dialectical. Imposing and alienating are the criteria for the undesired antithesis of one-sided interaction. Ways of transforming the undesired imposing interaction to a desired dialogical and dialectical means of interacting  will be devised and reflected and dialogued on with the participants using reflective, phenomenological and participative enquiries methods.


The study should also be of interest to those researchers who are interested in the interaction between a European scholar and scholars from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University of very different backgrounds and professions in the period of time between June 2012 and June 2014. This includes studying the differences and similarities between my anthropological and ontological reflections on my visit, life and social interactions in South Africa and the empirical responses of the NMMU scholars on their own experiences of our interactions over time. The experiences of NMMU scholars of a foreign scholar who is working to develop a theory that he constructed in the context of the University of Bath, and the Hebrew University and of the scholar himself will be able to shed interesting anthropological findings on and historic accounts the transforming new South Africa at a very interesting time of twenty years to the first universal elections. The attached narrative includes a reflective account of my personal impressions of South Africa and the personal feelings and experiences that living and working in South Africa, working in NMMU and travelling the country and the different townships, elicit in me.

Posted by Alon Serper on 06 May 2014 07:34:40
Filed under: methods, proposal, work, empirical

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