Exploring Research Methodologies: Positivism and Interpretivism

2119 Words9 Pages
Exploring Research Methodologies: Positivism and Interpretivism

Before a researcher can initiate a research project, they face the confusion and the range of theoretical perspectives, methodologies, methods, and the philosophical basis that encompasses them all. This seemingly meticulous structure for the research process is in fact aimed toward providing the researcher with a ‘scaffolding’, or a direction which they can go on to develop themselves to coincide with their particular research purposes. (Crotty, 1998)

Once a researcher has developed a research question they are seeking to answer, they must consider what methodologies and methods they will employ in the research; what theoretical perspective lies behind the methodology;
…show more content…
The principle purposes of social research, in a positivist approach, are to explain social life and predict the course of events. Positivism has received a great deal of criticism for use as a social research methodology as quantitative methods can be argued as unsuitable for research of human beings.

“The individual is relegated to being nothing more than a system outcome, not a thinking and acting human.” (Kelly & Charlton, 1995)

Quantitative methods use numerical data, facts and universal laws to perform research. These methods of science used to study the natural world, are arguably impossible for the study of human affairs. Epistemological dimension of positivism understands human behaviour as patterned, orderly and relatively stable. Therefore, methodologically, a positivist will use objective methods to collect data about human behaviour.

“While the positivist tradition is perhaps one of the least appropriate approaches to the social world it is, paradoxically, one of the most commonly employed.”(Lawson, 1997)

There are divisions of opinion amongst sociologists about the extent to which sociology is capable of producing objective understanding of life. The positivist concept is that the principles of science can be
Get Access