Navigating the Wilderness of Theories

Friday, 22 October 2021, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Zoom

All researchers, sooner or later, engage with one or the other social theory.  Consciously or unconsciously, all of our work has a theoretical dimension.  The problem for the researcher is that there are so many theories, each of which makes different claims and implies different kinds of research. This talk starts from a consideration of the plurality of theories operating in contemporary communication and seeks to provide an outline of how the beginning researcher might navigate them. The aim is not to promote one particular theory as superior to all others but to identify some of the key differences between theories.  It briefly reviews the supposed opposition between social scientific and humanities inspired research; between administrative and critical research; “normal” and “revolutionary” science; and the claims of different methodological approaches to data and evidence.  The intention is to provide the beginning researcher with some of the tools necessary to adopt a reflexive approach to their own theoretical choices.

COLIN SPARKS is Emeritus Chair Professor of Media Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University. He has written extensively on several aspects of the mass media, including tabloidization, globalization and media in transitional societies.  His most recently published work, undertaken in collaboration with Chinese scholars, has been about the impact of digital technologies on mainland Chinese newspapers and journalism.

Organized by Centre for Media and Communication Research and Research Postgraduate Studies Program, School of Communication and Film. Enquiries.