chapter  3
20 Pages

Entities and classifi cation

Entities, which are vital in any study, are often viewed as unproblematic and distinct divisions of reality. Traditional practices, entrenched theories and increasingly advanced monitoring technologies can all conspire to make entities appear unproblematic. Entities form the basis for the units upon which theories, and their translations to assessable hypotheses, are based. The entities studied, such as rivers, slopes, landslides and soils, indicate how researchers believe reality operates; how it is divided up, and by what processes divisions are made. Despite their pivotal role, entities remain relatively poorly conceptualised. To many, problematising the status of entities appears to bring into question the whole process of scientifi c study. Questioning entities, however, is a key part of the dialogue between researcher and reality. What is being studied is being continually redefi ned, renegotiated and refi ned. The whole process of research results in an often slow, occasionally rapid, invisible renegotiation of an entity. The same name may be used, but the connotations associated with an entity change.