Technocrats or intellectuals? Reflections on the role of housing researchers as social scientists

Marston, Gregory J. (2008) Technocrats or intellectuals? Reflections on the role of housing researchers as social scientists. Housing, Theory and Society, 25 3: 177-190. doi:10.1080/14036090802117630

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Author Marston, Gregory J.
Title Technocrats or intellectuals? Reflections on the role of housing researchers as social scientists
Journal name Housing, Theory and Society   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1403-6096
Publication date 2008-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/14036090802117630
Open Access Status
Volume 25
Issue 3
Start page 177
End page 190
Total pages 24
Place of publication Oslo, Norway
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Subject C1
180102 Access to Justice
940405 Law Reform
Abstract Like all social scientists, housing researchers must consider their role as knowledge producers in a changing social world. Questions about the appropriate means and ends of social research raise important considerations about policy impact, research quality and the public value of social inquiry. Answering these questions is not helped by the binary between the natural and the social sciences, which has created hierarchies of knowledge in which we have become comfortable and complacent with distinctions between “agency” and “structure”, “soft” and “hard” data; “objective” and “subjective” phenomena and “material” and “discursive” realities. Underpinning these distinctions is a fundamental tension between different rationalities, such as the difference between what Aristotle called techne (technical rationality) and phronesis (value rationality). Research that clarifies the risks and problems faced by contemporary societies should embrace both a value and technical rationality. In the first part of the paper I argue that much of what constitutes institutionally funded housing research, at least in Australia, has been dominated by a technical rationality; with much less attention being given to the significance of values and ethics in clarifying the problems of our time. In the final part of the paper I consider how housing researchers might reframe problems, design methods of inquiry and communicate their findings in a way that contributes to public debate.
Keyword Housing studies
Social sciences
Social research
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: Theoretical Concerns in Australian Housing and Urban Research

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Created: Sat, 18 Apr 2009, 01:04:02 EST by Elena Stewart on behalf of School of Social Work and Human Services