Engaged theory, Politics of engagement

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Summary

Engaged theory is a methodological framework for understanding social complexity. It takes social life or social relations as its base category, with 'the social' always understood as grounded in 'the natural', including humans as embodied beings. Engaged theory provides a framework that moves from detailed empirical analysis about things, people and processes in the world to abstract theory about the constitution and social framing of those things, people and processes.

Details

For all of its concern for epistemological grounding (see below), Engaged theory is an approach that is 'in the world'. All theory in some way affects what happens in the world. Anthony Giddens calls this a double hermeneutic. However, Engaged theory is more explicit that most about its political standpoint. Carol J. Adams expresses one dimension of this when she writes:

However, the other important dimension is that any theory is that it needs to be aware of its own tendencies to be ideologically driven by dominant concerns of its day. Liberalism, for example, with its reductive advocacy of the ideology of 'freedom', fails to be reflexive about this dimension.

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