If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Theory Project

I have been exploring a theory from a different discipline than mine for a paper that I am writing.  I am going to submit this paper to a journal that is in this other discipline and it will not be received well unless I ground the paper in a theory that is relevant to the field.  I was not sure this would be possible when I first started searching for a suitable theory.

But the theory that I found fits very well and is helping me think about both my paper and my analysis in very different ways.  Luckily the founder of the theory has not only written extensively on the theory but writes in a very accessible and pragmatic manner.  For someone outside of the discipline, this is incredibly useful.

There is another theory that I'm exploring for the paper.  This is a theory I was very familiar with many years ago, when I was studying in a third field.  I have not kept up with the theory but my prior understanding of it is instrumental to how I am interpreting the data.  I dug into the literature to find something more recent than my ancient notes and was surprised to find the theory had morphed considerably since I last explored it.  In fact it has even changed names twice.  The current version of the theory is actually a much better fit for this particular paper and for my work in general.

I've been reading about these two theories simultaneously and I'm interested in how they speak to each other across fields; where they converge and where they depart.  There is a third theory in yet another field that I've been applying to my work for the past couple of years.  It would be very interesting to see what all of these theories have to say to one another and then to incorporate that dialogue into my field.

Each theory, in its own way, relates to relationships within families.  This is a large part of my current work and my discipline does not do a good job of addressing families (theoretically or practically). So I'm thinking of a paper project where I analyze these theories in conjunction to each other and to my field and see what I come up with.  It is an intriguing thought and, if nothing else, would be useful to shaping the direction of my work.  But in thinking about it I realize it is a type of paper I have not really seen in any of the fields where I work and read.  Why don't we cross-analyze theories?

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