A Conversation with the Research of John Smyth
Chapter One: Opening up his ‘Intellectual Craftsmanship’
We are extremely mindful that if we are not very careful, the overview chapter of this book could well blow-out into becoming a book-length document in its own right, not necessarily a bad thing, but possibly not the right place in which to do it. We thought long and hard about how to come up with a framework, a way of captivating, getting up close and inside, and understanding the extensive and complex body of work of John Smyth, in order to have a conversation with it—and by implication to cast some much needed light on our primary title Doing Critical Educational Research, which after all was our animating objective. In the end, we decided to do this by invoking the sociologist John most admires—Charles Wright (C.W.) Mills, especially his defining work The Sociological Imagination (Mills, 1971). To borrow from Mills (1971), good sociological work requires an ‘anchor point’ (p. 222), and often identifying and deploying such points can make or break a piece of work. Often identifying anchors can be based on best guesses or hunches, and that is what we intend doing in what follows.
While John Smyth has never been a slavish or cult follower of C.W. Mills, or anyone else for that matter, he has always been an avid admirer of CW’s work, and ← 1 | 2 → John’s 1971 paperback Pelican Book copy of The Sociological Imagination bears all of dog-eared hallmarks and heavily annotated pages indicative of a...
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