Critical Theory as Research Methodology
Critical Theory as Research Methodology (Some Examples):
Cameron, A. C. (1981). Daughters of Copper Woman. Vancouver,
British Columbia: Press Gang.
Theoretical Orientation: Matriarchal/Matrilineal: "herstory" or revisionist history focused on social concerns--a phenomenological research approach focused on the emic dimension.
Type: Oral history of the native people of Vancouver Island, British Columbia preserved for generations by women of a matriarchal, matrilineal society.
jagodzinski, j. (1987). Toward an Ecological Aesthetic: Notes on a "Green" Frame of Mind. In D. Blandy & Congdon, K. (Eds.) Art in a democracy (pp. 138-163).
Theoretical Orientation: Green aesthetics
Main Topic: Green aesthetics--The author stresses analysis of the hidden ideology embedded in the design of products which may suggest values such as power, status, freedom, and loyalty. He argues for a labor-intensive economy rather than a capital-intensive one. He stresses that artists need to have a global consciousness while working at a community level. He believes a new collective alternative myth needs to be envisioned.
Subtopics: Green design, green architecture, reclamation artists, historical backdrop of patriarchy and scientism.
Comments: Some aspects of green aesthetics include: collaboration, networking, questioning assumptions, art sensitive to its site in nature, the validation of the intuitive realm and life-world experiences, emphasis on social concern, and sensitivity toward ecosystems.
Johnson, P. J. (1984). Marxist aesthetics: The foundations
within everyday life for an emancipated consciousness. London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul
Theoretical Orientation: Neo-Marxism & Hermeneutics
Main Topic: Part One interprets Lukacsian realist tradition as emancipatory. The author argues that Marxist theories of aesthetics have played a key part in the preservation of the problem to identify the basis within daily life for emancipated thinking. The sociological characteristics of our times being a "one dimensional" society makes it impossible to establish an emancipatory capacity for a work of art. "What is necessary, rather, is the attempt to show the appropriateness of the artistic perspective to the recipient's already existing needs for a new, emancipated consciousness" (p. 4). The author builds on Heller's theory of 'radical needs' which strives to identify the foundations for an emancipated consciousness within the dynamics of immediate experience in capitalist society.
Comments: Althusser's interpretation of Marxist theory "maintains that the foundations of knowledge lie not within the dynamics of social life but only in the relative autonomy of scientific theory" (p. 5). The author recognizes Althusser's interpretation as elitist and idealist.
Type: Marxist aesthetics
Thompson, R. F. T. (1984). Flash of the spirit: African and
Afro-American Art and Philosophy. New York City: Vintage Books.
Theoretical Orientation: Social Critical Theory--Symbolic Aesthetic Criticism--Some aspects of the Pragmatism School of Thought.
Main Topic: The rise of the Black Atlantic visual tradition. The aesthetics of black people in the U.S., Cuba, Haiti, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil, and other areas of the Americas have been influenced by Yoruba, Kongo, Ejagham, Mande, and Cross River civilizations of Africa.
Subtopics: The relationship between music and art; between religion and visual art; and textiles and architecture to life.
Werckmeister, O. K. W. (1989). The making of Paul Klee's career
1914-1920. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
References Used by Author: Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche - Existentialism; Klee's diaries; and Wilhelm Worringer (1907) - Abstraction and Empathy (against nature-oriented "empathy" to metaphysical absolutes).
Theoretical Orientation: Hermeneutics/Social-Critical: The author assesses aesthetic values by documenting the conditions that produced them. Values are seen as socially constructed. The author may lean toward a subtle version of social determinism.
Main Topic: A cultural critique of Paul Klee's art and career, especially the economic market orientation or and influence on Klee's art work. Klee was aware of the basic contradiction between freedom and security in the capitalist economy.