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Hunter-gatherers are often portrayed as 'others' standing outside the main trajectory of human social evolution. But even after eleven millennia of agriculture and two centuries of widespread industrialization, hunter-gatherer societies continue to exist. This volume, using the lens of language, offers us a window into the inner workings of twenty-first-century hunter-gatherer societies - how they survive and how they interface with societies that produce more. It challenges long-held assumptions about the limits on social dynamism in hunter-gatherer societies to show that their languages are no different either typologically or sociolinguistically from other languages. With its worldwide coverage, this volume serves as a report on the state of hunter-gatherer societies at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and readers in all geographical areas will find arguments of relevance here.
We look at how to design a comparative interpretive project and tackle the perennial case selection question. The problem here is one of justifying unorthodox comparison: a lot has been written on comparative case selection from a naturalist perspective, but this language is often an uncomfortable fit for interpretive projects. We argue that case selection is not something that is designed into a project from inception. For interpretive research, it changes as we go. We therefore suggest different strategies of case selection for different phases of a comparative interpretive project. We identify rules of thumb to guide design choices as the project or programme evolves.
In the Retrospective, we turn our methods back on our own book and ask, ‘what are the dilemmas of using the approach we advocate?’ It is an exercise in professional reflexivity as we reflect on the personal dilemmas that we navigated in writing this book. We ask, ‘what are the dilemmas of using our comparative approach?' Also, we impress upon the reader the merits of our approach by summarising the key terms of both the interpretive approach and our comparative interpretive approach. It is a short cut for those who like to skim books before reading them.
We look at the craft of writing. Although we discuss the challenges of writing that confront all social scientists, we focus on the dilemmas of writing up comparative interpretive research – dilemmas which we confront because we speak to a broader range of audiences. In doing so, we highlight the importance of seeing writing as integral to the research process, not something that starts once the research is done. We identify the rules of thumb for writing both linear and evocative narratives and discuss the dilemmas encountered in both approaches.
We outline the place of fieldwork in comparative interpretive research. Detailed qualitative fieldwork is central to most interpretive research, but practical guidance on how to navigate the field remains rooted to the idiographic tradition. The presumption is one of sustained immersion in a discrete setting. Interpretive comparison, however, necessarily requires partial immersion across multiple sites in shorter, more interrupted bursts. We call this yo-yoing. Crucially, the researcher must be alert to the surprises and moments of epiphany that can challenge initial assumptions and open new possibilities. We seek here to develop and illustrate key ‘rules of thumb’ that will enable researchers to manage the challenges and maximise the opportunities.
We explain the concept of dilemmas and how they underpin the logic of interpretive comparison. Existing work in interpretive theory refers mainly to ‘Big-D’ dilemmas that focus on ideational conflicts between traditions such as the clash between neoliberalism and state ownership. We add the notion of ‘small-d’ dilemmas that focus on the everyday, the routine and the mundane, choices, ‘court’ politics and realpolitik. We suggest that empirical, comparative, interpretive social science research revolves around the process of identifying the dilemmas that actors experience and the ways they respond to them, and puzzling about whether they vary according to the traditions in which they are situated. We suggest rules of thumb for identifying dilemmas.
We explain, and illustrate with examples drawn from our own work, how interpretive researchers analyse comparative data. We argue that a comparative project compounds the uncertainty, confusion and paralysis that can set in when confronted with a 'mountain' of qualitative data. We argue it is not possible to 'somehow capture' this full complexity. We outline and defend the need for a consciously impressionistic orientation to data analysis. Rather than searching for a ‘Eureka!’ moment that confirms or refutes a narrow theory (in naturalist mode) or makes sense of the whole picture (in idiographic mode), a comparative focus on dilemmas enables the use of a kaleidoscope of different analytical lenses and tools to explore complex specificness in context. We outline rules of thumb for helping along the way.
The chapter introduces the idea of creative intuition and interpretation before summarising the book's contents. At the heart of this book is the idea of comparative intuition. People in general, and social scientists in particular, are engaged in ‘constant comparison’. Comparison is what enables us to make sense of events as they unfold across time and space. Interpretive research offers a distinctive approach to the comparative intuition because it consciously offers interpretations of interpretations. This chapter has five substantive sections. First, we outline our basic argument for a consciously and explicitly comparative interpretive approach. Second, we provide a brief summary of the interpretive approach. Third, we seek to justify the rigour and sensitivity of a comparative interpretive orientation. Fourth, we foreshadow in greater depth the structure of the book and detail of its component chapters. Finally, we provide guidance for readers on how to use the book, and in particular on how to combine its insights with those stemming from canonical texts in the field.
We outline briefly the difference between naturalism and humanism before providing a summary of our key concepts of decentring, situated agency and plausible conjectures. In effect, we set the theoretical scene for the rest of the book and the underpinnings for comparative analysis based on dilemmas. We challenge the naturalist mantra of ‘different tools, shared standards’ and provide an alternative account of what constitutes valuable and rigorous interpretive research. We set out a new set of criteria by which interpretive comparative work should be assessed and towards which interpretive comparative researchers ought to strive. We focus on accuracy, openness and aesthetics. We show that not anything goes in comparative interpretive research.
Is it possible to compare French presidential politics with village leadership in rural India? Most social scientists are united in thinking such unlikely juxtapositions are not feasible. Boswell, Corbett and Rhodes argue that they are possible. This book explains why and how. It is a call to arms for interpretivists to embrace creatively comparative work. As well as explaining, defending and illustrating the comparative interpretive approach, this book is also an engaging, hands-on guide to doing comparative interpretive research, with chapters covering design, fieldwork, analysis and writing. The advice in each revolves around 'rules of thumb', grounded in experience, and illustrated through stories and examples from the authors' research in different contexts around the world. Naturalist and humanist traditions have thus far dominated the field but this book presents a real alternative to these two orthodoxies which expands the horizons of comparative analysis in social science research.
Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy Probe is a concept for a National Aeronautics and Space Administration probe-class space mission that will achieve ground-breaking science in the fields of galaxy evolution, cosmology, Milky Way, and the Solar System. It is the follow-up space mission to Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), boosting its scientific return by obtaining deep 1–4 μm slit spectroscopy for ∼70% of all galaxies imaged by the ∼2 000 deg2 WFIRST High Latitude Survey at z > 0.5. Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy will measure accurate and precise redshifts for ∼200 M galaxies out to z < 7, and deliver spectra that enable a wide range of diagnostic studies of the physical properties of galaxies over most of cosmic history. Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy Probe and WFIRST together will produce a 3D map of the Universe over 2 000 deg2, the definitive data sets for studying galaxy evolution, probing dark matter, dark energy and modifications of General Relativity, and quantifying the 3D structure and stellar content of the Milky Way. Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy Probe science spans four broad categories: (1) Revolutionising galaxy evolution studies by tracing the relation between galaxies and dark matter from galaxy groups to cosmic voids and filaments, from the epoch of reionisation through the peak era of galaxy assembly; (2) Opening a new window into the dark Universe by weighing the dark matter filaments using 3D weak lensing with spectroscopic redshifts, and obtaining definitive measurements of dark energy and modification of General Relativity using galaxy clustering; (3) Probing the Milky Way’s dust-enshrouded regions, reaching the far side of our Galaxy; and (4) Exploring the formation history of the outer Solar System by characterising Kuiper Belt Objects. Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy Probe is a 1.5 m telescope with a field of view of 0.4 deg2, and uses digital micro-mirror devices as slit selectors. It has a spectroscopic resolution of R = 1 000, and a wavelength range of 1–4 μm. The lack of slit spectroscopy from space over a wide field of view is the obvious gap in current and planned future space missions; Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy fills this big gap with an unprecedented spectroscopic capability based on digital micro-mirror devices (with an estimated spectroscopic multiplex factor greater than 5 000). Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy is designed to fit within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration probe-class space mission cost envelope; it has a single instrument, a telescope aperture that allows for a lighter launch vehicle, and mature technology (we have identified a path for digital micro-mirror devices to reach Technology Readiness Level 6 within 2 yr). Astrophysics Telescope for Large Area Spectroscopy Probe will lead to transformative science over the entire range of astrophysics: from galaxy evolution to the dark Universe, from Solar System objects to the dusty regions of the Milky Way.