The Missing Link?
Edited by Christopher Pollitt
Chapter 1: Context in the context – missing the missing links in the field of public administration
This chapter is about the ‘context’ and how it is or can be used in relation to scientific knowledge while doing research in the field of public administration. In general, contextualism has been understood as a philosophy of science in the communities of psychology and the social sciences (Hayes et al., 1993; Morris, 1997). Issues of pragmatic truth criteria, narratives, historiography, dialectical materialism, Vygotskian perspective, drama psychology, hermeneutic research, post-modernism, and so on, have all been analysed in the connection of contextualism. In this chapter, I do not discuss too many specialities of contextualism, but try to paint a broader picture about the distinctions that are involved. The first distinction that I will make is about various forms of contextualisms that may be useful, given the focus of this book. The second distinction I will bring in is context understood as the context of knowledge and as the context of knowledge creation. The third distinction I will put up is context understood either as conceptual context or as factual context. At this stage what I miss in the connection of each distinction is how the distinction may contribute to understanding the idea of ‘context as a missing link’. After making these distinctions, I make some points about the relative contribution different ways of using context may have in improving scientific knowledge in the field of public administration as a discipline, and about public administration and management as the research object of the discipline.
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