No, this is not some pretentious metaphor. I am going to talk about new shoes, literally.
In his book The Two Cultures (1959), C. P. Snow wrote about a gap between scientists and arts/humanities scholars. What about us social scientists? On a cusp? Anyway, he offered a compelling insight, but my own experience and observation tell me that a deeper gap lies between qualitative researchers and quantitative researchers.
In this context, I believe that a way to go ahead is to combine both, which in theory will allow the researcher to benefit from the best of the both worlds, and I indeed employed a combination of multiple methods for my doctoral research and other smaller projects I have been involved in.
I can’t deny that I have so far found myself inclined towards qualitative methods though. Methods such as interviewing and ethnographic observation are simply closer to my heart. Despite its obvious merits, I have my reservations about quantification, at least in the disciplinary field I am in.
However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in numbers. Sometimes I genuinely wish more things could be quantified.
So, now, my new shoes. The graduation ceremony is a couple of weeks away. I already received my degree certificate months ago, so I know what they are going to hand me on the podium is a dummy one. Still, it’s the celebratory ambiance that I am looking forward to enjoying with my family and friends. And I know our Founder’s building makes a beautiful setting.
(From the RHUL graduation leaflet)
I have recently bought a pair of pumps for the occasion. As a perpetual student, I have been able to afford to dress like everyday is casual Friday. (FYI, until the end of my undergraduate study, my dress code was hiphop[!].) Plus, I really can’t do heels of any height. But this time, I thought I would make an effort.
Besides, they were an amazingly good bargain as well (although I am not that naïve to believe what those ‘off-price’ retailers claim as the original prices. Figures on the tags seem quite arbitrary). Anyway, after a long hunt, I got myself simple black pumps. Versatile and suitable for my unassuming wardrobe. I was quite excited.
Yesterday I test-drove them when I was going to the bank. The verdict? They hurt so badly that I had to come back home immediately. They are not even high heels. 2 inches max.
I think I am going to return them tomorrow. What’s the problem then? My dilemma is that I know myself too well. I am a little bit of a drama queen 😛 when it comes to physical pain. Plus, like I said earlier, I have no experience of heels of any height, so I don’t know how much pain I am supposed to bear to break in a new pair. How wonderful it would be if there was a pain-o-meter for new shoes, and if it could tell us something like the following. Say, on a scale of 1 to 10, if your pain is equal to or smaller than 4, it is supposed to be borne, whereas if it is greater than 4, the shoes are not meant for you and to be returned. Just a passing thought.