How? Research Methodology


Research adopts an interdisciplinary methodology that brings together work from a broad spectrum of disciplines: political theory, economics, sustainability science, human-computer interaction (computer science), legal studies, and social anthropology.

<b>Theoretical research</b>
Research employs analytical tools such as Discourse theory and Critical theory (Howarth, Norval & Stavrakakis 2000; Freeden 2008: 196-215; McNay 2008: 85-105; Tully 2008) to document the state of the art and build up the theoretical framework upon the multi-case study approach is based. Both Discourse and Critical theory address the normativity inherent in the narratives that frame collective action (McNay 2008: 85-105; Hoy and McCarthy 1994; Foucault 1969; Laclau and Mouffe 1985; Howarth 2000). They both critically engage in the examination of the power relations underpinning the collaborative economy.
<b>Discourse theory</b>
Discourse theory revolves around discourses featuring most prominently in the case studies under illustration such as “the commons”, “commons-based peer production”, “open cooperativism”, “platform cooperativism” and “cosmolocalism”.

Discourse theory analyses theoretical essays and other textual material – manifestos, brochures, writings in the press (online and offline), the discourse of social entrepreneurs, activists and communities. Discourse theory has worked out concepts such as ‘articulation’, ‘nodal point’, ‘antagonism’, ‘dislocation’, ‘logic of equivalence’ and ‘logic of difference’ in order to investigate how social practices form the identities of subjects and objects by articulating together a series of contingent signifying elements. Discourses feature practices that materialize the meaning of actions, of technological artifacts, of business models and institutions by establishing specific relations between elements around ‘nodal points’, i.e. key reference points (see Laclau & Mouffe 1985; Howarth, Norval & Stavrakakis 2000; Howarth 2000). 

<b>Critical Theory</b>
Critical theory deals with norms, values, practices and power relations existent in novel organizational models such as cosmolocalism, platform cooperatives and distributed ledgers. Eventually, Critical theory addresses the contradictions inherent in the creation of a collaborative economy aiming to transform capitalism into the post-capitalism of open cooperativism.   
<b>Empirical research</b>

An in-depth exploratory/explanatory multiple case study work is considered the most appropriate methodological approach in dealing with a group phenomenon such as the emergence of novel organizational models, Fablabs, makerspaces, etc. – which has not yet been thoroughly studied (Yin 2003; Creswell 2007). The in-depth multiple case study employs four main research methods for data collection: literature review, interviews (Fiss 2009: Biernacki et al. 1981), participant observation and online document reviews. 

Both Discourse theory and Critical theory provide the analytical framework necessary to bring to the fore discourses in communities and groups dense with complex power relations, institutional structures and diverse viewpoints and narratives. Discourses and power relations to be explored revolve around the manufacture and use of technological artifacts, distribution of power and resources in the social forms that will be studied (horizontalism/verticalism, distributed networks), practices of social participation, forms of representation and particular entrepreneurial strategies, among others.




Supported by Hellenic Foundation of Research & Innovation | "TECHNO-SOCIAL INNOVATION AND COLLABORATIVE ECONOMY" (Grant N6039)