As a student or even a scholar, you may be wondering why we study theory at all. Surely we can get along quite happily without abstract discussions, academic digressions and high-sounding jargon? What do these have to do with understanding? Academics in particular often sound like they are deliberately intending to mislead or to obfuscate. ‘Epistemology’? ‘Ontology’? ‘Social constructivism’? What on earth are those? It makes you think of the 1980s movie Crimson Tide, where the traditional old man of the sea played by Gene Hackman engages rather tentatively in an academic discussion of Carl von Clausewitz with the Harvard-educated Denzel Washington. ‘I studied engineering at the Naval War College’, Hackman tells Washington’s character, implying that he never much bothered with theory or with the musings of long-dead Prussian officers (by the way, the discussion of Clausewitz in the movie is highly inaccurate, but…

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