PSY206FQualitative Research I PRESCRIBED TEXTS: • Babbie, E. & Mouton, J. (2001). The practice of social research. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. • Readings • Lecture Notes
Lecture 1Qualitative & Quantitative Research Readings: Babbie & Mouton text (pp. 270-273)
Philosophy, Paradigm & Method Philosophical assumptions about the nature of reality & what we can know about reality Research strategy & nature of research PARADIGM = overarching perspective about appropriate research practice based on philosophical assumptions
Paradigms differ along three dimensions: • Ontology – nature of reality • Epistemology – nature of the relationship between researcher and what can be known • Methodology – practice of research
POSITIVISM A research paradigm concerned with gathering information about social facts in an objective and detached manner • INTERPRETIVISM An approach committed to studying meaning and human phenomena in context
Positivist Paradigm Positivist research involves “… precise empiricalobservations of individual behaviour in order to discover … probabilistic causal laws that can be used to predict general patterns of human activity” (Neuman, 1997: 63)
Positivism – Basic Assumptions • Discovery of universal laws governing the social world. • A fixed social reality exists that may be measured and described. • Human behaviour is rational and predictable. • Positivist science can uncover the ‘truth’. • Empirical knowledge is privileged. • Objective, value-free study is crucial in research.
Interpretive Paradigm Research should explore “…socially meaningful action through the direct detailed observation of people in naturalsettings in order to arrive at understandings and interpretations of how people create and maintain their social worlds” (Neuman, 1997:68).
Interpretive Paradigm – Basic Assumptions • How do people make sense of their social worlds? • Many social realities exist due to varying human experience • Human behaviour is context-bound and variable • Common sense provides insight into social realities • Understanding of social reality is achieved through rich contextual description • Recognition of subjectivity in social research is important
Logic of the Research Process Deductive reasoning (Positivism) THEORY HYPOTHESIS OBSERVATION CONFIRMATION (accept as fact)
Logic of the Research Process (Cont.) Inductive reasoning (Interpretive) OBSERVATION PATTERNS HYPOTHESIS THEORY
Qualitative and quantitative approaches are different ways of thinking about and doing research HOWEVER, • The skilled researcher can successfully combine approaches. • Different approaches allow us to understand and know different things about the world around us.