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comparative research

Comparative Research

Presenter: Anthony Welch

Discussants: Nigel Bagnall

Time: 4:30-6:30pm, 27 August 2009 (refreshments at 4:30pm for 5:00pm start)

Venue: Room 351, Education Building (A35), The University of Sydney

Thinking comparatively, byAnthony Welch

Thinking comparatively is a state of mind. For at least the last two centuries, scholars in fields as diverse as comparative religion, comparative anatomy, comparative sociology, and comparative politics, have grappled with the issue of how to develop a systematic science of comparison in their field. Philosophers such as John Stuart Mill also contributed significantly to our appreciation of the art of thinking comparatively. More recently, thinking comparatively in educational research has been influenced by diverse currents, drawn from positivism/scientism; dependency theory, post-colonialism, globalisation and studies of diaspora, (the latter two of which have problematised the taken-for-granted status of the nation-state as unit of analysis within the field). Common to many of these efforts is the ongoing effort to understand and articulate, as well as to refine, both the rationale for comparison, and appropriate theories and methods of comparative research. This presentation will review what it means to think comparatively, what it can contribute to educational research, and some of the major currents of thought on how to go about it.