Comparing and Contrasting Qualitative and Quantitative Social Research Methodology

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INTRODUCTION Social research is conducted using a logical and systematic process that can be carried out for numerous reasons and it is concerned with the empirical study of social phenomena. The purpose of conducting such research is to enhance knowledge of how the social world operates through the study of human behaviour and investigates how humans interact with others in society. Research in general, is usually conducted by adopting either a qualitative or quantitative approach (Henn et al, 2006). The approaches taken and the decisions that are made by qualitative and quantitative researchers differ with respect to their epistemological position and ontological assumptions and these assumptions orientate the research strategies in a…show more content…
The theoretical perspectives that are largely concerned with quantitative research includes; realism, critical inquiry, positivism and post-positivism (Gray, 2004). Qualitative researchers tend to view the world through the interpretivist paradigm. The interpretivist researcher focuses on the interpretation of social phenomenon as subjective, aiming to discover a deep and meaningful understanding of how and why human behaviour evolves, and through the eyes and points of view of their participants, believing that knowledge is uncovered from meaning (Henn et al, 2006). In contrast, Quantitative researchers view the world through the positivist paradigm. The positivist researcher primarily focuses on the investigation of social phenomenon as objective by detaching themselves from the subject matter to view the world from an objectivist angle and believing that knowledge is ‘out there’ to be uncovered (Henn et al, 2006). Qualitative and quantitative research similarly has an established relationship between theory and research (Bryman, 2004) which underpins the differing perspectives of qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research is primarily inductive in approach and is described by Henn, et al (2006, p.14) as a “research-then-theory approach”, whereby the hypotheses and theory is generated from the data that is collected and analysed. Analysis of the collected data will indicate any potential relationships and patterns that emerge between variables
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