Ontology and methodology, Margaret Archer, and a far better non-abelist explanation

beeLast week we started the Ma module Research Strategy and Design in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Leeds. Like any method course should, I think, we start with ontology, move on to epistemology, and by week 2 we are working out research questions. In our discussion about the relationship between ontology and methodology I put this quote up on the screen from Margaret Archer (1995:28)

An ontology without a methodology is deaf and dumb; a methodology without an ontology is blind. Only if the two go hand in hand can we avoid [research] in which the deaf and the blind lead in different directions, both of which end up in cul-de-sacs’

Rightly, students in the group accused Archer of abelism. I challenged them to go away and come up with a non-abelist alternative.

Inga Reichelt came up with this, which I think is rather better than the original:

“An ontology without a methodology is like a bee queen without a bee colony to reign over – she might have a plan and idea on how to lead the bee hive, but not the power to execute any tasks. A methodology without an ontology is a colony of worker bees without a bee queen- a bundle of chaotic, disorganized tools. Only together can the two achieve their functioning and create a buzzing beehive of lively research.”

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