Friday, February 20, 2009

Methodology Shift

So, I'm still on the fail side of things, it being Friday and me having posted on-- uh-- one previous day this week.
And to be honest, I've been sort of a bum. I definitely spent at least 4 hours today fucking around on the internet. That is way too long to be fucking around on the internet.
<<<whines-- but I'm tireeeeddd, and it's colllldddd>>>>

That being said, I've been thinking about it a lot, and I'm pretty sure that the way I'm leaning towards things is that I am going to end up doing some interviews.
Here's how it's going: To understand how society conceptualizes and has conceptualized punishment, I have to decide what makes up a social view. I think that historical accounts are part of that, but I also think that there might be something really powerful about having people whose lives surround punishment reflect on how they conceive punishment.

Then I have something material to attach the theoretical analysis to.

My argument about theory, I suppose, is that political theories describe the formalization of ideas that people hold about political phenomenon. They may also be able to explain the source of those ideas.
Wait, but I also think that it's more than just ideas that political theories may be able to explain, but also all those other things that Marx talks about: technology, science, industry, etc.

But anyway, in order to see how political theory explains something, I need to be able to talk about what it's explaining, thus a need to see how people envision punishment.

I think I'd like to interview a cross-section of people involved in punishment: probationers, parolees, corrections officers, corrections union types, wardens, legislators (who have written/sponsored punishment legislation), as well as 'regular' people. I don't think I want to interview prisoners, because that is a whole different kettle of fish in regards to IRB protocols, etc. I think parolees should be enough for this project.

From there, I can sort of see in whose minds different explanations (political theories) make sense-- for example, do corrections officers see things differently than wardens, than prisoners. What factors affect this perception? What effects do these perceptions have? Etc.

I need to clarify all this. Like a lot. I think I might need to re-read some Das Kapital for some ideas about how to express all this. Or maybe not, Marx wasn't terribly clear on it either.

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