Science as a theoretical practice: a response to Gorard from a sceptical cleric

Roy Nash


Gorard argues that ‘theory’ is a principal barrier to the adoption of mixed-methods in social and educational research. His critique of ‘theory’, however, raises questions that may require some further attention. In this paper I respond to Gorard’s argument, informed by scientific realism and broadly committed to a ‘numbers and narratives’ approach to educational research. At the same time, however, I am critical of what appear to be non-realist elements embedded in Gorard’s own theoretical position. Here, I attempt to shift the focus from theory to explanation in the belief that this may clarify what is at stake in the symbolic struggle over method.

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