Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Social Research Methods in Focus

Social Research Methods (SRMs) in Focus

I will share with you my interest in Social Research Methods (SRMs) while staying in India studying Indian languages, culture, philosophy and literature.  The SRM part of my interest is situated within a course at the University of Edinburgh, UK, at the master level. But the level of this blog will be at an introductory level and importantly more of sharing my thoughts and how they develop during the 2 months course starting 2:nd of October 2017.

My topic of research interest is: How a religious community interact with their scriptures directly, and indirectly through community/culture and through teachers and general or personal guides.

In Europe about 500 years ago many people changed from the so called Catholic Church and faith to new movements like Protestant faith. A similar change can be seen in the Indian history where people have individualized their religious life and taken direct shelter of scripture. An initial research question might be: Where should one draw the line between authentic religious practice and New age style of engagement? How do the scriptures and different communities deal with this problem.

So I will be interested in two objects of research: communities and scriptural documents.

One reason why I have chosen this research topic is that I want to focus on two special SRMs during the first two weeks of the course: Ethnography and discourse analysis.

So the blog is more about SRMs and not so much about my main interest of Indian culture etc. These two SRMs, ethnography and discourse analysis both relate to my daily life of interacting with scriptures and living within a community. So I have a lot of experience to draw from for asking relevant questions about these SRMs.

Initial question about both of them is: how would I go about using them in a research project. I hope to learn about this the two first weeks of the course.

But more important are two possible challenges I will meet among others:

Will Ethnographic methods reach deep enough, in other words, are people conscious about the problem of authentic engagement and able to share any reflections on this, or how to go about finding an answer within ethnography?

Does scripture discuss this problem of authenticity, in other words, does old scripture anticipate this problem, which maybe after all only is a modern problem?

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