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Postparadigmatic materialisms: A "new movement of thought" for outdoor environmental education research?

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-05, 05:33 authored by Noel GoughNoel Gough
© 2016, Outdoor Education Australia.

Since at least the beginning of this century, the literatures of research methodology in the social sciences have increasingly focused on what are now being called “new empiricisms” and “new materialisms.” My purpose in this essay is to appraise the potential of these approaches for outdoor environmental education research. I begin by reviewing some of the ways in which outdoor and environmental education research has been conceptualised in the recent past, with particular reference to the practice of representing research in terms of paradigmatic distinctions. I argue that poststructuralist theorising, with which the new empiricisms and new materialisms have strong continuities, has never been accommodated by Kuhnian paradigmatic categories, and that these new movements are more usefully understood as arising from “postparadigmatic” thinking. I then provide a brief (and far from comprehensive) overview of some key characteristics of new materialist research approaches with particular reference to the utility of deploying Barad’s concept of “intra-action” and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of “assemblage” in conceptualising research methodology and methods, and offer a selection of examples of how such approaches might inform outdoor and environmental education research, with particular reference to challenging anthropocentrism in these fields.


Publication Date



Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education






15p. (p. 51-65)


Outdoor Council of Australia



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