Lecture 1 SEPTEMBER 5, 2019

 Lecture 1, September 5, 2019:

Introduction to the Course

Administrative concerns: grades and assignments; readings; tutorial participation; course protocol

Review of syllabus: Preview of course content, themes and problematics

knowledge as Mediated: "a matter of opinion"

Overview of themes and levels of analyses (macro/mecro/micro) --- key concepts.

Introductions, what is ‘research’? Why is it important?

Justice, Rights and Inequalities as Generic Processes and Structures

Required Readings: Alan Bryman and Edward Bell (2019) Introduction

 What is research? What is research for, and for whom?

How do different academic disciplines view knowledge, knowledge production, research and its purposes/goals?

Critical Approaches
 commitment/ conviction

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The message and the method of the course are deliberately oppositional, challenging disciplinary canons and the totalizing view of traditional “common sense”.

(Being: subjectivity / consciousness)INSTITUTIONS
(Behaviour, means )

(Beliefs: goals, aspirations)

(Belief: faith, spirit, tradition)


  1. i) Assumptions and forms of social analyses, modes of reasoning: nature and knowledge
  2. ii) Scientific a priori reasoning; Knowledge and opinion; Values, consent and “common sense”

knowledge and practices of knowing

 The Significance of Ideology to KNOWLEDGE

 Ideological blinders often prevent us from challenging our own basic values and assumptions; if we don't challenge the pursuit of knowledge, in large part, by being helped to break free from the cave of opinion.


Plato’s cave

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Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: the Eye-Opening Ancient Version of the ‘Matrix’


Echoes, shadows, windows,  mirrors and mimicry,  fog and smoke

-- slogans and cliches

The processes of education, formal and informal, direct and indirect, are major sites of ideological reproductions (Althusser 1971) which influence more than our opinions but rather firmly entrench a certain consciousness.

It is only by encountering the real life experiences that one can fully realize the insidious ways in which hegemony operates to control thinking.

Ideological blinders often prevent us from challenging our own basic values and assumptions.

The pursuit of knowledge is, in large part,   an escape from the dark and yet comfortable cave of ready made opinions which continue to judge differences, colonize compliance and shackle the imagination.

Ideology becomes part of a general “knowledge”.

Knowledge as  Ideology

"sociological imagination"

“Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without   understanding both. Yet men do not usually define the troubles they endure in terms of historical change and institutional contradiction. ... The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external  career of a variety of individuals. ... The first fruit of this imagination--and the first lesson of the  social science that embodies it--is the idea that the individual can understand his own experience  and gauge his own fate only by locating himself within this period, that he can know his own chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstances. ...We  have come to know that every individual lives, from one generation to the next, in some society;  that he lives out a biography, and that he lives it out within some historical sequence (CW Mills, The Sociological Imagination, 1959:3-10).


knowledge (episteme) and opinion (doxa)

knowledge production

knowledge encoding

knowledge transmission  


What Do We Really Know 

Knowledge as Order and Ordering Perspective

Knowledge as property 

 Knowledge as power

What is Knowledge?

 Opinion? Observation? Certainty?  


Critical awareness is not bound by a servitude to certitude nor by  a carceral culture of ignorance. Contradictions characterize  accommodations to “ knowledge” 




Is Knowledge Possible?

The Ways to Knowledge



normalising mechanisms


deference to discipline become common-sensical


-- Characteristics

-- Research Problems

-- Ways of Understanding

 How to Acquire Knowledge


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