The Blindness of Focusing. Pragmatic theories of communication and the challenge of validation


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Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology;5(2)


Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

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In this theoretical article it is argued that certain pragmatic approaches to language and communication are necessary to take into consideration when validating cultural, immanent 'objects' or cultural utterances. It is claimed that he very act of attention creates, as a direct co-effect, a problematic context. Hence, handling context is seen as crucial to validation as a process. So-called triadic theories of communication combine the three key aspects syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. It is argued that such theories offer perspectives and tools for analysing the dynamics of text and context, utterance and genre in different semiotic modes and channels. In the first part the concept of validity is discussed. Further some triadic theories are presented. Texts of Bakhtin and of Habermas on relations between a communicative (triadic) perspective and kinds of validities are discussed. A framework (a 'model') that integrates several of the discussed perspectives is then outlined and is used to clarify the concept of positioning. This concept is coined to enable combinations of more categorial (aspect dependent) and relational research designs. It is asked: Validating and/as positioning(s)? A brief example is given (just) to illustrate implications of a triadic perspective when working with validity. In the next main section some challenges, implications, and dilemmas are touched upon. The article ends suggesting that a double triadic framework of positioning has the potential to theorise validity claims connected to veracity, truth and normativity as well as critiquing possible weaknesses. By not just focusing figure (text or utterance), but even theorising ground (context or genre) and how the two relate, blindness might be reduced and validity increased.



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