Theory and Educational Research: Toward Critical Social Explanation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Theory and Educational Research

Toward Critical Social Explanation, 1st Edition

By Jean Anyon


220 pages

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Most empirical researchers avoid the use of theory in their studies, providing data but little or no social explanation. Theoreticians, on the other hand, rarely test their ideas with empirical projects. As this groundbreaking volume makes clear, however, neither data nor theory alone is adequate to the task of social explanation—rather they form and inform each other as the inquiry process unfolds. Theory and Educational Research bridges the age-old theory/research divide by demonstrating how researchers can use critical social theory to determine appropriate empirical research strategies, and extend the analytical, critical – and sometimes emancipatory – power of data gathering and interpretation.

Each chapter models a theoretically informed empiricism that places the data research yields in constant conversation with theoretical arsenals of powerful concepts. Personal reflections following each chapter chronicle the contributors’ trajectories of struggle and triumph utilizing theory and its powers in research. In the end this rich collection teaches education scholars how to deliberately engage with critical social theory in research to produce work that is simultaneously theoretically inspired, politically engaged, and empirically evocative.


"This volume scrubs the mystique off social theories, making them accessible and even agreeable to a much wider audience, thus opening up immeasurable opportunities for future creative application. As instructor and students, we could not recommend this book more highly."--International Journal of Qualititative Studies in Education 2009

"This has been a valuable book for me, and I recommend it to anyone considering using social theory in their research, particularly doctoral students."--Joseph A. Maxwell, Education Review, January 2010

Table of Contents

Introduction: Critical Social Theory, Educational Research, and Intellectual Agency, Jean Anyon

Part I – Theory and Explanatory Analysis

1. Critical Social Theory and the Study of Urban School Discipline: The Culture of Control in a Bronx High School, Kathleen Nolan

Personal Reflection

2. Theorizing Student Poetry as Resistance to School-based Surveillance: Not Any Theory Will Do, Jen Weiss

Personal Reflection

3. Theorizing Redistribution and Recognition in Urban Educational Research: ‘How Do We Get Dictionaries at Cleveland?’ Michael J. Dumas

Personal Reflection

Part II – Theorizing with Research Participants

4. Theorizing Back: An Approach to Participatory Policy Analysis, Eve Tuck

Personal Reflection

5. Low-income Latina Parents, School Choice, and Pierre Bourdieu, Madeline Perez

Personal Reflection

6. Queer Theory and Teen Sexuality: Unclear Lines, Darla Linville

Personal Reflection

Epilogue, Michelle Fine

About the Author

Jean Anyon is Professor of Social and Educational Policy in the Urban Education Doctoral Program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

About the Series

Critical Youth Studies

Set against the massive social, cultural, and material dislocations of the new century, Critical Youth Studies interrogates the complex cultural dimensions of young people’s everyday lives today. Drawing together the work of both well known and emerging scholars, this series focuses on "youth studies" as a self-constituting, trans-disciplinary area of inquiry. Operating largely at the specific intersection of education, sociology, and media studies, Critical Youth Studies features authored and edited books, drawing on a range of methods and approaches, treating the span of issues most relevant to youth today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General
EDUCATION / Research