THREE APPROACHES TO SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH
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THREE APPROACHES TO SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH. INTERPRETIVE. CRITICAL. POSTIVISM. Reason for research:. Discover natural laws with the desire to predict and control events. Understand and describe at a deep level, beyond the surface. To embolden, empower and enable people to change society.

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THREE APPROACHES TO SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH

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Three approaches to social science research

THREE APPROACHES TO SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH

INTERPRETIVE

CRITICAL

POSTIVISM

Reason for research:

Discover natural laws with the desire to predict and control events

Understand and describe at a deep level, beyond the surface

To embolden, empower and enable people to change society

Nature of social reality and the Nature of Knowledge:

Stable, preexisting patterns ororder that can be discovered; reality/truth is out there, to be captured and measured. Fixed. Big “T” truths.

Depends on human interaction; fluid; always shifting and changing. Socially constructed. Situational. Small “t” truths

Conflict filled and governed by hidden or masked underlying structures. Knowledge is both knowable and socially constructed

Nature of human beings:

Self-interested, rational individuals shaped by external forces

Social beings who create meaning in interactions and constantly make and remake their worlds

Creative, adaptive creatures with unrealized potential trapped by illusion and exploitation

Role of common sense:

Clearly distinct from and less valid than science

Powerful, everyday theories used by ordinary people

False beliefs that mask power and objective conditions

Most influenced by:

Technical/rational, enlightenment approaches – “hard” sciences.

Literature, humanities, history, sociology

Non-academic. No one academic discipline or practice. Individuals: Paulo Freire; Karl Marx; The Frankfort School

Theory looks like:

Logical, deductive system of interconnected elements

Description of how a group’s meaning system is generated and sustained

Critique that reveals true conditions and helps people define different ways for themselves

An explanation is “true” if:

Logically and empirically connected to laws on based on facts

Resonates or feels right to those being studied

Supplies people with needed tools

Good evidence:

Based on precise observations (empirical) that others can repeat (replication)

Embedded in the context of fluid social interactions

Informed by theory and practices that unveils illusions

Place for values:

No place – value free, except for choosing topic

Integral part of social life and of the researcher’s life. No right and wrong (relativism)

Everything begins with a value position; some are right, some are wrong

Outcome:

Knowing more across situations; predictability. More research. Writing papers and presenting to academic and professional audience.

Knowing things more deeply, particularly within situations; pop culture star, if you make it

Social change. Researcher should be invisible and the work is not about the researcher. Knowledge will transfer

Audience

Other researchers and decision makers

Everyone

Community that wants to change; other similar communities

Adapted from: Neuman, W. Lawrence (2000). Social Science Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. p. 85.


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