Empiricism is the theory that experience is of primary importance in giving us knowledge of the world. Whatever we learn in this world, we learn through perception using our senses, according to empiricists. Knowledge without experience with the possible exception of trivial semantic and logic truths, is impossible (‘theory of knowledge’). It is often opposed to with rationalism which is knowledge is attributed to reason independently from the senses.
(Galvin, 2012) The tabula rasa or idea of the mind being a blank tablet as the independent observer is completely passive and should not attempt to influence the delivery of data first came from Aristotle (Galvin, 2012). Empirical methods reports the results of a study that uses data derived from actual observation or experiment used in ‘fields to allow testing’ and can be a substitute of anything that can allow theory to emerge from data (Cahill, 2012).
There are two commonly known ways of collecting data which is 1. quantifying which is using numerical data or data that can be converted into numbers 2. qualitatively is exploring issues that raise questions that can be answered by a verbal analysis as they cannot be measured or do not require measurement (‘explorable. com’) The article that will be contextualized in this essay is the Ward et al. (2007) paper which is ‘Living and working in an urban class communities’.
The paper interviews 141 carers with at least one dependent child in three contrasting areas in London and Manchester with the main focus on Wythenshawe. There are many authors in the creation of this journal who have their own individual contribution as well as collective input using other references. Kevin Ward is a political economist in Human Geography in Manchester, with interests in urban politics and policy (‘Manchester academic’). Collette Fagan is a research director of Social Science in Manchester University (Manchester academic’).
Linda McDowell is a Professor of Human Geography at Oxford. She is of particular interest to this journal as she is an economic geographer interested in the connections between economic restructuring, labour market change and class and gender divisions in Great Britain (‘Oxford geography academic’). Diane Perrons is a Professor of Economic Geography and gender studies (‘London school of economics’) with Kath Ray being involved in Senior Research in a social policy group specialising in qualitative research (‘Policy studies institude’).
The status that this journal obtains is that of economic, social and cultural structure in society of how low-income mothers cope, live and labour in a rapidly changing city as they preform paid work at the same time as ensuring social reproductions in the household. It is based on a working-class rank in society with the aims such as to draw attention to the lives of people in working class communities in order to address the imbalance caused by the rash of middle class studies and to emphasise the role played by mothers and their mothers in the everyday reproduction of households and communities (Ward et al.
, 2007, pp. 314). It can be argued that the theme of the journal is the traditional economic structure of women shaping decisions around whether to preform paid work or conform themselves to caring duties. Given the authors roles as geographers and researchers, the content of the journal adapts well to the authors taking into account that it covers aspects in which they specialise in.
An example of one author, Linda McDowell has been ‘at the forefront in the development of feminist perspectives on contemporary social and economic change’ (‘School of geography and the environment’) but as this journal indicates women in traditional roles and/or deprivation of income, Linda McDowell’s selection of this disadvantaged area allowed her as a feminist geographer to pose theories on the area and question the approach of pre-feminism tradition to be seen. In this paper, there are four selected concepts dealt with individually which are: 1.
Getting by in the working class neighbourhoods 2. Intergenerational geographical immobility and a sense of place 3. A constrained juggling act of paid and unpaid work commitments and, 4. Unpaid and informal extended family care. In terms of work, many of the women talked about their time in paid and unpaid employment and the nature of their partners work. Women are dispensed in the 5 C’s and even when in full time employment are receiving 18% less than men. (Ward et al. , 2007, pp.314)
Many of the women interviewed were part-time workers with only four out of sixteen women given in table 2 of Ward et al. , 2007, in full time employment. Women are seen to conforming to structural constraints in deciding whether to preform work or not with families needing at one and half or two incomes to be beyond poverty. Many households were questioned about amenities, leisure and extended family and childcare. Many of the women lived close by their families with more than 50% living within a mile of their parents as recorded in table four (Ward et al., 2007, pp. 317).
It would advocate that various on the interviewees would not survive financially without being close to parents or other extended family members with the burden of childcare costs diminished slightly due to complementary care. Wythenshawe is a region in South Manchester which is the second most deprived local authority district on the 2004 index with low levels of house ownership and with many people suffering from unemployment in a region called Sharston within Wythenshawe.
(ODPM, 2004, pp. 315) It showed a decline in population in Shartson in the years of 1991 and 2009 with a drop of 15% with twice as many lone parents with dependent children living there (Ward et al. , 2007, pp. 315) Many of the women that were in the areas are thought to be in a progression of spatial entrapment which is when companies relocate to areas of residence where women whose domestic responsibilities restrict their employment prospects and job search (Kim, 1993).
With that, a selected number of women in this journal are victim to this theory mentioned. The study was theoretically driven as it was intended to reflect an array of household work and family circumstances as an entire area rather than characterise the household structure of a small area. Wythenshawe has many participants who have experienced the theory of the study and based on the philosophy that they were in a working class neighbourhood responding to contemporary challenges and how women in general manage responsibilities.
Candidates were gathered from a range of locations such as pre-schools, playgroups, libraries, a number of other pre-school amenities and snowballing and which consisted of at least one pre-school child (Ward et al. , 2007, pp. 316-317). Each of the interviews lasted between one-two hours highlighting a number of themes with close attention paid to eleven women. The analysis was separated under different headings to differentiate the topics discussed. Interviews allow knowledge to be gained from personal experience and gives insight of the social structure and people’s experience of the world.
Interviews are tedious but an effective method of documenting information. Surveys were used to gather statistics for a number of different topics in this study such as households, intergenerational mobility, and the type of work and hours performed. Surveys generally are a quick and easy way to collect data especially as this journal covers a larger area. With that, as these statistics are accounted for in a number of areas within Manchester some of the data produced may be misleading as many of the surveys are averages or have some information missing therefore not producing accurate data which may be deceptive.
The case study overall is the most effective tool as the candidates chosen were able to relate to the hypothesis of the journal within the areas selected. Under the associated headings mention above, the results were represented under the various sections in regard to each candidate that was spoken to. The main method used was interviews therefore the verbal accounts from each individual are seen in particular areas of interest to the individuals allowing the journal to have a flow from topic to topic.
The other results were collected and amounted into tables containing numerical data which the authors conducted themselves. The majority of the journal reflected the theoretical stance of the authors such as Kath Ray as her speciality of qualitative research was an independent tool in the research conducted. Also as many of the authors have specialities in gender roles and policies, much of the theory in the journal is leaned towards theses aspects. Empirical research methods will continue to play a helpful role in the qualitative research in geography.
Empirical methods allow qualitative research to have proof to its theory as qualitative research is to describe the certain phenomenon and answering questions (‘QSR international’) Given that it provided information does not mean that the content of the theory in question is true, therefore, empirical research provides the an alternative for a test/experiment to be carried out to verify that research carried out is true and that qualitative research as a duplicate in theory and in practice.
An area of the reported research that is not empiricist in approach is of course the bibliography. It contains resources that obtained some prior knowledge about the study before it was carried out. Overall, the journal shows the use of empiricism and empirical methods throughout. The contrasts between the two are highlighted in the analysis and results of the journal which portray their uses in geographical research. Section 2 Bridging the fields of geography and biology, biogeography is the study of the distribution of plants and animals across the earth (Potito, 2012).
It requires a primary understanding of ecology and evolutionary factors through space and time concerned with identifying how historical, physical and biological factors have contributed to the past and present distributions of individuals, species, communities, ecosystems and biomes. The aims of the course is to introduce students to various methodologies used in biogeography research and hands-on field, lab and data analysis exercises that will allow students to put learned concepts into practice and give students experience working with the techniques used in biogeography.
In sum of the above the learning outcomes is for one to have a comprehension of the basic principles of biogeography as a discipline, a developed capacity to apply the field of methodologies and data analysis techniques used and finally to critically understand the human impact on species distributions and conservation strategies. With regard to the course material covered so far, empiricism has found importance in some aspects covered.
Although, there is a need for a more empirical approach as it is hard to distinguish between concepts of process and evidence of pattern and on the greater use of analytical methods (‘sciencedirect’). Much of physical geography modules are viewed purely as empiricism. They could once be viewed in this light but given present day resources they are aspects of both concepts seen in biogeography. The content and reading materials were once unique events experienced by the senses and were accepted as geological truths.
This however was granted under no data to prove theories or events. Much of biogeography is about understanding theories about what has happened in the past such as extinction or succession patterns and using the knowledge that already exists to test theories and to try formulating the future. As it is a physical aspect of geography, the course also leans in the side of empirical methods as it involves labs and getting out into the field collecting data using a theory or hypothesis having prior knowledge about the experiment.
Empirical methods are seen throughout the course so far as some of the theory thought has shown results of tested theory in numerical forms of data etc… In relation to empiricism and empirical methods in biogeography, it is defined by the courses aims and objectives as much of the course (so far) has been introducing pre-existing information/evidence of various methodologies used in the research of biogeography and collecting data out in the ‘field’ of observation during lab sessions and putting learned concepts into practice which gives the students hands-on experience.
The course should consider using more of an empirical method approach for students to gain a wider understanding of world experience in the field as researchers and testing hypothesis. Bibliography Section 1: Cahill, R. , and Galvin, S. , (2012), Theory and Practice 1, Empiricism, [online], (‘https://nuigalway. blackboard. com/webapps/portal/frameset. jsp? tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_32490_1%26url%3D’) Accessed 31 October 2012. Explorable. com (2009), Research Designs: Quantitative and Qualitative Research [online], (‘http://explorable.
com/quantitative-and-qualitative-research. html’) Accessed 31 October 2012. Fagan, C. , and Ward, K. , (1998/2007), Manchester academic; Staff profiles [online], The University of Manchester, (‘http://www. manchester. ac. uk/research/directory/staffprofiles/’) Accessed on 31 October 2012. Kim, V. L. , (1993), Suburban Pink Collar Ghettos; The Spatial Entrapment of Women, 83 (2), pp. 225-242. McDowell, Linda. , (2012), School of Geography and the Environment; Staff profiles [online], University of Oxford, (http://www.geog. ox. ac. uk/staff/lmcdowell. html ‘’), Accessed on 31 October 2012. ODMP, (2004).
The English Indices of Deprivation (revised). London, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister [online], (‘http://www. communities. gov. uk/documents/communities/pdf/131209. pdf’) Accessed on 31 October 2012. Perrons, D. , (2009) Research and Expertise; LSE Experts Directory [online], The London School of Economic and Political Science (‘http://www2. lse. ac. uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/d. [email protected] ac. uk’).
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