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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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
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
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
Other researchers and decision makers
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.