Context starts here!

In my column of week two I already wrote a bit about context. The column was about the importance of community based research preliminary to sustainable transformation. The made-to-measure scenario that I wrote about takes a sustainable technology as starting point. The technology is then modified to fit the environment. The other approach investigates the local context and searches for sustainable solutions that fit. I called this the haute couture solution, because it takes the context as starting point.


I plead for good research to the context. There is no ad-hoc need for sustainable transformation, which means that there is time to do such thorough research. This, I think, is advisable to prevent failures during the transformation.


But this raises many questions to me about the context itself. What is the context? When doing research, it is impossible to map the entire situation since reality is infinitively complex. Therefore the researcher has to set her/himself boundaries. To what extend does a factor influence the object of research? This I find very difficult in the research about Texel. The theme about food comprises a lot of aspects. So I need to make a selection to be able to say anything useful. Therefore the context is a selection of aspects of reality. It is a construct of the researcher.


So, if context is a construct made by me, then it is also formed by the context of myself. That’s why I state that the context starts here, with you and me. But is my research still objective and scientific when it is influenced by my personal interests, preferences and feelings?


I think the research is not objective anymore, but this does not have to be a problem. The important thing, however, is the awareness of oneself to be able to diagnose the personal influence. By being aware of your own preferences or even prejudices, you can assess the validity of the research. Analysing your own context can be a good way to start evaluating your perspective and growing awareness of it. 


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