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The Foundations of Social

Research
Introduction: Research is About
Questions
◦ What methodologies and methods will we
be employing in the research we propose
to do?
◦ How do we justify this choice and use of
methodologies and methods?
◦ What kind of knowledge do we believe will
be attained by our research?
◦ What characteristics do we believe that
knowledge to have?
◦ How should our audience regard the
outcomes of our research?
◦ Why should our audience take these
questions seriously?
The Foundations of Social
Research
At issue in the questions are four
steps of inquiry that constitute the
basic elements of the research
process:
◦ What methods do we propose to use?
◦ What methodology governs our choice
and use of methods?
◦ What theoretical perspective lies
behind the methodology in question?
◦ What epistemology informs this
theoretical perspective?
The Foundations of Social
Research
Methods: The techniques or
procedures used to gather and
analyze data related to some
research question or hypothesis.
Methodology: The strategy, plan
of action, process or design lying
behind the choice and use of
particular methods and linking
the choice and use of methods to
the desired outcomes.
The Foundations of Social
Research
Theoretical Perspective: The
philosophical stance informing
the methodology and thus
providing a context for the
process and grounding its logic
and criteria.
Epistemology: The theory of
knowledge embedded in the
theoretical perspective and
thereby in the methodology.
The Foundations of Social
Research
The Foundations of Social
Research
The Foundations of Social
Research
(See Table 1, page 5 of Crotty
Text)
What purpose do the four
elements serve?
◦ Ensures soundness of research
design (validity)
◦ Assists in justifying research
◦ How might we outline our research
proposal in these terms?
2 methods
The Foundations of Social
Research
1. Discussion of Research
Methods
2. Discussion of Research
Methodology
3. Discussion of Theoretical
Perspective
4. Discussion of Epistemology
(In communication…)
The Foundations of Social
Research
1. Discussion of Epistemology
2. Discussion of Theoretical
Perspective
3. Discussion of Research
Methodology
4. Discussion of Research
Methods
The Foundations of Social
Research
Epistemology
◦ A way of looking at the world and
making sense of it
◦ How we know what we know
◦ The nature of knowledge, its
possibility, scope and general basis
◦ Philosophical grounding for what
kinds of knowledge are possible and
how we can ensure that they are
both adequate and legitimate.
The Foundations of Social
Research
Major Types of Epistemology
◦ Objectivism
◦ Constructionism
◦ Subjectivism
The Foundations of Social
Research
Objectivism
◦ Meaning and meaningful reality exists
as such apart from the operation of any
consciousness.
◦ The tree in the forest is a tree,
regardless of whether anyone is aware
of its existence or not
◦ Without humans, it carries intrinsic
meaning of ‘tree-ness.’
When human beings recognize it as a tree,
they are discovering a meaning that has
been there all along.
The Foundations of Social
Research
Constructionism
◦ There is no objective truth waiting
for us to discover it. Truth, or
meaning, comes into existence in
and out of our engagement with the
realities in our world. There is no
meaning without a mind.
◦ Meaning is not discovered but
constructed.
Subject and object emerge as partners in
the generation of meaning.
The Foundations of Social
Research
Subjectivism
Meaning is imposed on the object
by the subject.
The object itself makes no
contribution to the meaning
Meaning comes from anything
but the object to which it is
ascribed.
The Foundations of Social
Research
Question to class for discussion:
◦ How would taking one of these three
epistemological stances affect how
you do your research?
The Foundations of Social
Research
Ontology
◦ The study of being
◦ Concerned with what is (as opposed
to how we come to know what is)
◦ Concerned with the nature of
existence
◦ Ontological issues and
Epistemological issues tend to
emerge together
◦ “Realism is often taken to imply
Objectivism” One is ontological, one
is epistemological, which one is
which, how are they different? See p.
The Foundations of Social
Research
How would creationists and
evolutionists view the 3rd
paragraph statement on p. 10?
What does it mean to say, “The
existence of a world without a
mind is conceivable. Meaning
without a mind is not.”
The Foundations of Social
Research
On page 12, Why does Crotty tell
us that there are very few
restrictions on where these left-
to-right (and even occassionally
up and down) arrows may go in
the four part schema? Do you
agree, why or why not?
The Foundations of Social
Research
Crotty critiques research
textbooks that pit qualitative and
quantitative methods against one
another and instead argues the
divide should be at the
epistemological or theoretical
level, not at the methodology or
methods level. Why does he do
this?