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Methodological Points Of American Studies

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2007-03-04 06:52:15     
Article by Javad Alipoor

I believe that the key elements of reductionism in studying the North America are our distance from the North America, and investigating or examining it with our society's criteria. Because, the various variables and attitudes that are applied in approaching research topics in Eastern countries, like Iran, are different from the variables and attitudes that are used about the North America. For avoiding from reductionism in production of understanding, we should apply and use the especial criteria of the North American societies, and importantly, we should consider the differences among the North American societies. Therefore, traveling to or living in North America and studying it closely and directly, and making mind to subjective as well as studying cultural productions, like movies, can provide an appropriate term for avoiding from reductionism.

According to these issues, I think that class, gender, religion, ignoring the distinction between rural and urban areas, signs, symbols, social status, family, job, education, way of life, social behavior, symbolic interactions, race, ethnicity, ideology, lake or existence of freedom, and ... are the main elements that cause reductionism in production of understanding about the different aspects of the North America. These elements would cause reductionism in understanding. But, we should consider relevance of these elements in certain eras and between especial societies, because, the effect and the role of them change in the different periods and the distinctive groups or the societies. For example, in the cold war era the ideology was important. As reductionism occur because of more cultural distinction between researcher and who or whom that are examined, then more information about many aspects of it helped the researcher to have better understanding.

I believe that changing idea, patterns, way of life, situation of society alter the elements. Then, researcher should change his/her methods in studying any societies or areas according to the changes that happen with passing the time.

First of al, I would mention that we should distinguish self tends, bias, and values judgments from each others. As there is an interaction between methodology and epistemology, each of them can affect both of them. As a result, self tends, bias, and values judgments contribute to form an ontological gap in epistemology. For solving this problem, I suggest that we consider the distinctions among identities, for instance, we and others. I believe that others observations as reality might be different from our observations. Also, we should pay attention methodologically to existence different individuals, arrangement of individual activities, behavior consequences, distinction among social orders, division of work, resistance of society vis-a-vis individuals. Considering the common subject, experience of life and world, mutually relevance system between our minds and others mind would diminish the ontological in epistemology of North American studies.

Additionally, we should develop this idea that we need to others for recognition ourselves at least in comparison. Culture and society as well as family establish the persons and persons with different cultures live in different life in the world. We should assume that others are rational and our understandings of others should be based on criteria to prevent the ontological gap in epistemology of North American Studies. I believe that our understanding of others principally is historical and social science has multi- cultural philosophy. Multi-cultural philosophy lead to different epistemology and self tends. Thus, methodology of self- cognition should be appropriate with culture. Because, the self and the world that the self live in it are function of cultural paradigms and society that form them. I think that investigating society, morality, psychology, value, and activities of expression and interpretation are very significant. Also, study of dominant discourse in each period, even between members of any groups help us to prevent this gap. Just as considering the paradigms of each era and society has key role in studying any area of like, especially the North America.

Javad Alipoor, M.A. student of North American Studies in Institute for North American & European Studies, University of Tehran, Iran.

Specialized in: Methodological Points - American Studies
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