A critical examination of team and collaborative research

[Deutscher Titel: Eine kritische Betrachtung von Arbeitsgruppen- und gemeinschaftlicher Forschung]

Natasha S. Mauthner, Andrea Doucet
`Knowledge Once Divided Can Be Hard to Put Together Again’ An Epistemological Critique of Collaborative and Team-Based Research Practices
Sociology, Vol. 42, No. 5, 971-985 (2008)

Abstract: This article critically examines team and collaborative research as an `academic mode of production’. Our main argument is that while theoretically qualitative social science research is rooted within a postfoundational epistemological paradigm, normative team-based research practices embody foundational principles. Team research relies on a division of labour that creates divisions and hierarchies of knowledge, particularly between researchers who gather embodied and contextual knowledge `in the field’ and those who produce textual knowledge `in the office’. We argue that a theoretical commitment to a postfoundational epistemology demands that we translate this into concrete research practices that rely on concerted team-based relations rather than divisions of labour, and a reflexive research practice that strives to involve all team members in all aspects of knowledge construction processes.

Key Words: collaboration • contextual knowledge • divisions of knowledge • divisions of labour • embodied knowledge • epistemology • reflexivity • research teams • textual knowledge

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