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Durham University

Department of Anthropology: Writing Across Boundaries

The Data - Theory relationship

The relationship between data and theory is a complex and subtle one, different for each researcher, which comes to the fore in the process of writing. The attached reading is a selection of books and articles which contemplate topics from the technique of Grounded Theory to critical links between theory and method. 

"Writing Two" specifically considers the relationship between data and theories not belonging to an author's communal discipline, by focussing on a number of cases where eminent scholars have foraged far beyond the received templates of their disciplines to create challengingly innovative prespectives and conclusions.


Willis and Trondman : Manifesto for Ethnography


In this discussion, the authors state that Ethnography and Theory should be conjoined to produce a concrete sense of the social as internally sprung and dialectically produced. Drawing from William James, they present a feeling that students writing up will recognise as all too familiar - 'Experience, as we know, has ways of boiling over, and making us correct our present formulas (1978:106) Under the acronym of TIME, standing for a 'Theoreticaly Informed Methodology for Ethnography', the authors enter in to a discussion of 'recording and presenting the nitty gritty of everyday life', of producing 'illumination' for readers and a host of other issues experienced by students grappling with qualitative data.