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La Educación
Número: (114) I
Año: 1993

Intellectual Communities Today

Figure 2 is drawn from a discoursive analysis of 41 exemplary texts. It presents a heuristic taxonomy or synchronic mapping of knowledge perspectives in the field today. Four major root paradigms, or world-views, are identified, i.e., the functionalist, the radical functionalist, the radical humanist, and the humanist. Some 21 branching theories (i.e., ways of seeing) drawing upon one or more paradigms are identified and linked citing a number of illustrative texts. Together, the interaction of paradigms and theories within texts can be seen as a dynamic intellectual field. While this figure may capture something of the range and diversity of present knowledge perspectives in the field, it can only suggest the intense eclectic borrowing currently taking place across intellectual communities—not only in comparative education, but in almost all areas of intellectual work. In Figures 3 and 4 some indication of this knowledge interaction and growth will be presented via the phenomenographic mapping of knowledge relations at macro/metatheoretical, and micro/practice levels.


Phenomenography is about the qualitatively different ways in which people experience or think about various phenomena as well as about the relations between human beings and their world. In comparative education, phenomenographic studies have sought, as in this work, to characterize how researchers see, apprehend, and think about knowledge constructs such as “paradigms and theories” at different times and in different knowledge cultures and sub-cultures. Through textual analysis, this phenomenographic study seeks not to describe things “as they are,” but how they have been presented as sedimentations of ways of thinking about the world. Accordingly, categories of description (as in Figures 1, 2, 3, and 4) are seen as a form of discovery and as the main outcomes of such research activity. Comparison of alternative perspectives seeks to identify distinctive characteristics or essential structures of each conceptualization so they may be described and mapped—as in Figure 2.19