Friday, April 20, 2012

Theoretical Handle: Morphogenesis/Morphostasis

Margaret Archer’s morphogenetic approach may be better equipped than collectivism or individualism to help us achieve coherence in the research questions.  
Archer explains morphogenesis:

The ‘morpho’ element is an acknowledgement that society has no pre-set form or preferred state: the ‘genetic’ part is a recognition that it takes its shape from, and is formed by, agents, originating from the intended and unintended consequences of their activities. (Archer 1995: p.5) 

Within the term morphogenesis is its differentiating value proposition:  understanding how persons engaged in society continuously transform it.  Structure and culture may initialize default settings for society’s human occupants but, at the multiple levels in which they unavoidably and necessarily interface, synergy is inevitably achieved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Theoretical Handle: Analytical Dualism

Archer (1995) explains that if we filter the emergence-interplay-outcome sequences through their inextricable temporal backdrop, and sever, if only analytically, the parts (structure and culture) and the people from their otherwise seamless, perpetual interaction, then the distinctness and thus the attribution of reasons is facilitated.

Archer stresses how analytical dualism is the incumbent methodology of social realism which the morphogenetic/static approach complements:

Quite simply, if the different strata possess different properties and powers and structure and agency inter alia are deemed to be distinctive strata for this very reason, then examining their interplay becomes crucial.  When applied to structure and agency, the realist social ontology entails the exploration of those features of both which are prior or posterior to one another and of which causal influences are exerted by one stratum on the other, and vice versa, by virtue of these independent properties and powers.  The ‘people’ in society and the ‘parts’ of society are not different aspects of the same thing but are radically different in kind.  This being so, then social realism implies a methodology based upon analytical dualism, where explanation of why things social are so and not otherwise depends upon an account of how the properties and powers of the ‘people’ causally intertwine with those of the ‘parts.’ (Archer 1995: p.14-15)

Archer (1995: 218-245) cites eight terms that encapsulate various configurations in structural and cultural conditioning, describing a mix-match in interests and resources.  In this study I will use only two of these eight terms of Archer’s (marked in italics).

Archer (1995) explains Necessary Complementarity as part of the structural conditioning with which agency operates.  When two or more structural factors – which may or may not have developed in conjuction with one another – find their interests and goals mutually in support of or in alignment with one another a situation of Necessary Complementarity is argued to exist.

Archer (1995) explains “constraining contradictions,” or compromise, as one type of cultural conditioning where various iterations of ideational inputs interact with structural conditioning inputs, ultimately bearing down or constraining agency.

Archer (1995) explains Contingent Compatibility, or opportunism, as a type of structural conditioning input where contingent relationships are consistent or support the interests of particular groups.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Theoretical Handle: Emergence

In the critical realist theory, the concept of emergence plays a central role in its view of reality as ontologically autonomous (Lopez 2003, p.77), that is, that what makes reality persistently more than what we attempt to know of it is its continuous generation of various permutations at multiple levels.

 The process and the result of this emergence is described as at once cumulative and synergistic – that “the operations of the higher level cannot be accounted for solely by the laws governing the lower level in which we might say the higher level is rooted and from which we might say it was emergent.” (Bhaskar 2008, p.113).

I thus apply emergence to help elucidate what I describe (starting in section to be two of the resultant and three of the emergent properties of migrant illegality:  the former describing its cumulative or aggregative nature drawn from its component parts and the latter describing what has resulted from the synergy of its component parts.  The possibility of the “more” which the critical realist concept of emergence enables moves me to qualify that while my arguments are drawn from the Empirical (what I observed – as I cite case snippets and other bases of my observations) that this may only be a subset of the Actual (what may be in addition to what I observed) and thus all my arguments will be describing, if at all,  only a part of what is Real (the Empirical and Actual and all other future emergent combinations) (Bhaskar 1975, p.13 cited in Collier 1994, p.34).  

Elder-Vass (2010) defines an emergent property as "one that is not possessed by any of the parts individually and that would not be possessed by the full set of parts in the absence of a structuring set of relations between them" and a resultant property as "properties of a whole that are possessed by its parts in isolation, or in an unstructured aggregation."  Properties then of a migrant illegality whole arising from the particular ways immigration control technology, the migration legal framework, compliant migrant utilizers, migrant productivity, collaboration with foreign entities, geographic focus, and blocking of housing access interrelate may be specific only to the migrant illegality or in both migrant illegality and each of these seven component parts individually.