There are different ways in which researchers can use in order to establish the theoretical hypothesis they sought to establish. Before setting out on a research, the researcher must choose a research problem, the question to be addressed by the research, the strategy to be employed in the research, establish any assumption or hypothesis evolving around the research problem and the outcome expected.
According to Blaike Norman in his book the ‘Approaches to social enquiry’, there are about ten research paradigms that have been classified into classical and contemporary research paradigms. The classical research paradigms are; Positivism, Critical Rationalism, Classical Hermeneutics, and Interpretivism (Blaike, 2007 pp 130-131).
The question that these research paradigms seek to answer is if the methods of natural science can be applied to the social sciences? Positivism as a classical research paradigm invented in 1970 by Sociologist Comte identified that positivism was based on the thesis of naturalism and was characterized by phenomenalism (uniqueness of experience that relies on scientific knowledge), nominalism (asserts that notions on which observation cannot be done have no existence unless it is a name), atomism (object of experience is discrete and independent) general laws (avers that scientific theories are a bunch of law-like statements), value judgments and normative statements (facts and values must be separated; value judgment has no pragmatic content of validity, verification (how to settle the truth or falsity of the scientific statement), and the last characteristic is causation which asserts that there is no causation in nature; only constant coincidences.
Thus in summary, positivism approves that methods of natural science can be utilized in the social science sphere. Criticism of the paradigm
is that it assumes that there is order in reality (Blaike 2007 pp 134-137). The second classical research paradigm is critical rationalism that was propounded on by Popper in 1972 whereby he reiterated that in search of the truth, it is hopeless to establish if the theories are true and the recommended procedure is to eliminate the false facts, thus the paradigm accepts partly and partly rejects the natural science approach and subject the methodology to further tests since there are some tentative solutions to certain problems.
The third classical research paradigm is Classical Hermeneutics where proponent such as Dilthey asserted that understanding should be the ultimate aim of human sciences and thus natural science methods cannot be used in social science as there is no relevance as what is involved in
social science is interpretation of texts. Proponents of this paradigm sought to combat the inabilities of articulate understanding of texts; a practical example is the experience undergone by one community in grasping the culture of another community. Hermeneutic is the process of
grasping the unknown.
The fourth and last classical research paradigm is the Interpretivism that is based on the tenet that there is a fundamental difference between subject matters of both the natural and social sciences. Understanding social phenomena requires an understanding of social world which was first formulated before the advent of natural science (Blaike, 2007, p109-132).
The other six research paradigms are classified as contemporary research paradigms, these are; Social Realism, Ethnomethodology, Critical Theory, Structuration Theory, Contemporary Hermeneutics and feminism. Critical theory school of thought propounds that reasoning is the highest potential of man which enhances the ability to criticize and challenge the nature of existing societies. Critical theory thinkers reiterate that man is a free, autonomous and able to create and control his environment.
Critical theory criticizes the natural science methodology and avers that man should learn to understand his environment rather than reliance
on technical rationality. Thus this paradigm does not agree that natural science is the way forward. Ethnomethodology reiterates the ways through which a sense of order is maintained through the study of the everyday occurrences. Ethnomethodology concerns itself with exploring the interaction of people towards the society to make a sense of reality.
Ethnomethodology is interested in the conventions of the society for instance, establishment of social clues to determine social class and occupation. Developed by Garfinkel in the 1940s, ethnomethodology was a response to creation of an informed scientific sociology in the United States. Feminism is an approach that criticizes the assumptions perceived as patriarchal in research across the range of both social and natural science. Structuration, propounded on by Anthony Giddens, the research paradigm reiterates that human beings recreate through interactions within a social structure that constrain their actions.
The paradigm has the capability of a multifaceted analysis at both macro and micro levels (Blaike 2007 pp 145-149). Contemporary Hermeneutics propounded on by Rorty McDowell, hermeneutics seeks to establish a new ground that is free of relativism and skepticism. It fundamentally seeks
to perceive the moving horizon engaged in a strand of dialogue of all human though. Social Realism incorporates the regulation and stability of social theories against radical changes. In trying to explain the human affairs, the theory becomes pragmatic and relies on positivism
(applies models and methods from the natural science to social affair); its belief is that relationships can be identified and measured using science (Blaike, 2007, pp 164-170).
Indisputably, human experiences hold out the reality, and thus for DBA research, the most effective research paradigm would be the Structuration which will steer the researcher to a direction where he effectively studies the text in understanding the purpose of the research and intellectually develop self concept. Structuration will enable a researcher relate with the research at a personal level. In personalization of the research, the researcher is able to relate to the research question thus give it meaning and a valid interpretation.
It is not easy to disrepute work researched using Structuaration unless, the critic can come up with a ‘multi-faceted’ interpretations of the research texts regardless of the fact that some of the interpretations may be at logger heads with each other. It is imperative that the research texts are analyzed against the available variables and this requires self perception.
List of references
Blaike, Norman. (2007). Approaches to Social Enquiry: advancing knowledge. USA: Polity
Press, 2007, 2nd Ed.