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INTRODUCTIONTORESEARCHMETHODOLOGIES

ChristinaHughes
UniversityofWarwick
C.L.Hughes@warwick.ac.uk
Thereisadistinctionintheresearchmethodsliteraturebetween
twokeyterms.Thesearemethodandmethodology.Theterm
Methodcanbeunderstoodtorelateprincipallytothetoolsof
datacollectionortechniquessuchasquestionnairesand
interviews.Methodologyhasamorephilosophicalmeaningand
usuallyreferstotheapproachorparadigmthatunderpinsthe
research.Thiswouldinclude,forexample,positivism,post
positivism,critical,postmodernandsoforth.
Thisintroductorypackageexploresfourmainparadigmsof
researchmethodology.Theseare:positivism,interpretivism,
criticalandpostmodern.Theseparadigmsformdifferentways
inwhichweunderstandsocialrealityandthenatureof
knowledge.Weallhavetheoriesabouthowtheworldworks,
whatthenatureofhumankindisandwhatitispossibletoknow
andknowknow.Theusefulnessofthetermparadigmisthatit
offersawayofcategorizingabodyofcomplexbeliefsand
worldviews.
POSITIVISM

Thisistheviewthatsocialscienceshouldmirror,asnearas
possible,proceduresofthenaturalsciences.Theresearchshould
beobjectiveanddetachedfromtheobjectsofresearch.Itis
possibletocapture,throughresearchinstruments,`real'reality.
Positivismiscritiquedbecausestudyingsociallifeis

considered,inmanyways,tobedifferentfromstudying
chemicalsinalaboratory.Forexample,thesocialresearchis
imbuedwithvalues,experiencesandpoliticsthatcannotbe
separatedfromthedatathattheresearchproduces.Inaddition,
therearemanyquestionsraisedaboutthenatureofsocialreality
istherea`real'reality(facts)thatwecanobjectivelyknow?
THELANGUAGEOFPOSITIVISM
Discussthefollowingquestionsintermsof:significance,
generalizability,reliability,validity,objectivity,causality.
1.Doeswatchingviolenceontelevisionandfilmencourage
childrentobeviolent?
2.Doessmokingkill?
3.Doeslearningpay?
4.Willmassparticipationinhighereducationincreasethe
economiccompetitivenessoftheUK?
Whatkindofresearchdesignwouldbeneededtoanswerthese
questions?
INTERPRETIVISM
Theinterpretivistapproachlooksforculturallyderivedand
historicallysituatedinterpretationsofthesocialworld.
InterpretivismisoftenlinkedtothethoughtofMaxWeber
(18641920)whosuggeststhatinthehumansciencesweare
concernedwithVerstehen(understanding)incomparisonto
Erklaren(explaining)Processratherthan`facts'.Interpretivism
hasmanyvariantseghermeneutics,phenomenology,symbolic
interactionism.
INTERPRETIVISM

TASK
Yourtaskistoundertakeanobservationof15minutes.
Duringthisobservationyoushouldrecordwhatishappening.
Whenyoureturnyouwillbeaskedtoexplainthesocial`reality'
thatyouhaveobserved.
CRITICALSOCIALRESEARCH
Critiquestheparadigmsofpositivismandinterpretivism.
Criticalinquiry[isnot]aresearchthatseeksmerelyto
understand[itis]aresearchthatchallenges...that[takesupa
view]ofconflictandoppressiontobringaboutchange.Included
inthiscategorywouldbefeminism,Marxism,antiracist
approaches.
CRITICALSOCIALRESEARCH
CANSOCIALRESEARCHCHANGETHE
WORLD?
ThecaseofOralTestimonyandDevelopmentin
ParticipatoryActionResearch*
Ethical/Political/MethodologicalStance:researchbasedon
oralhistoryandoraltestimonycanbeveryeffectiveinensuring
thatthevoicesofthoseweresearchareheard.Reversecommon
expertnovicerelationssothatdevelopmentworkers/researchers
arenovicesandlocalpeopleexperts.
ProjectAims:helpdevelopmentworkers/researchersimprove
theirlisteningandlearningskills;valuetheknowledge,
experience,cultureandprioritiesoflocalpeople.

Methods:oralevidence(songs,legends,stories,plays,
traditionalaccountsofcommunityorfamilyhistorypassed
downthegenerations,personalstories,recollectionsand
memories).
*Source:Slim,HandThompson,P(1993)Listeningfora
Change:OralTestimonyandDevelopment,London,Panos
Researchers'Training
Afocusontheconceptualandculturaldimensionsof
interviewingsothatdevelopmentalworkers/researcherswere
sensitiveto`customarymodesofspeechandcommunication
andallowpeopletospeakontheirownterms'.
Needtoknowthelocalcultureandissuesbeforethefieldwork
isembarkedupon.`Ifthenarratorsensesthattheintervieweris
ignorantofthemostbasicfeaturesofhisorherlifestyle,thisis
notconducivetoagoodrelationship'.
Needtorecogniseanumberoftypesofinterview(onetoone,
familytree,singletestimony,diaryinterviews,group,
communityinterviews).
Alsobesensitivetolocalcustomsegonetooneinterviewsare
notalwaysacceptable(egwheninterviewingwomenaloneor
whereinterviewer/intervieweearedifferentsexes)orofvalue
(egwheninterviewingchildrenwhomaycommunicatebetterin
groups).
Needtousearangeofmethodsforfacilitatingoraltestimony
(walkabouts,roleplay,diagrams,makingmodels,maps,time
lines,landmarks,photographs,talkingthroughpuppets,draw
pictures).
Practiceinterviewsareundertakenaspartofthetraining.

Whathappenswithallthedata?
Collected500interviewsamountingto600hoursoftape.Many
oralhistoryprojectsgetstuckafterthecollectionphase.Whatto
dowiththoseboxesoftape,thoseuntidytranscripts,howto
interpretthem,howtopublishthem,howtoreturnthemtothe
informants?
Needtorecognisethevalueoftheprocessofcollectionitself.
Forcedparticipatingagenciestocreatethetimetolistenwiththe
resultthatprojectworkershadanewunderstandingandrespect
fortraditionalknowledge.Interviewersthemselvesdiscovered
theyhadlittleknowledgeoftheirowncultureandtheirparents'
generation.
Someoftheinterviewswerereturneddirectlythrougha
literacyprogramme.
Informantswereabletoinfluencedevelopmentsinthearea.An
immediatebenefitwasthat`someonewaspayingrespectful
attentiontostronglyheldopinionsandbeliefs.Someprojects
wereabletoactonnew,technical,informationabout,for
example,halfforgottenirrigationtechniques.
Publicationincluded:bound,indexedandsearchable
interviewsforotherresearchersanddevelopmentworkers;
monographtoreachwideraudience;allinterviewswere
publishedinEnglishandorganisedbycountryonacomputer
disk,togetherwithcomputerisedandhardcopyindex.
POSTMODERN
Advocatesofpostmodernismhavearguedthattheeraofbig
narrativesandtheoriesisover:locally,temporallyand
situationallylimitednarrativesarenowrequired.
Postmodernismisacontemporarysensibility,developingsince

WorldWarII,thatprivilegesnosingleauthority,methodor
paradigm.
Whatthepostmodernistspirithasbroughtintoplayisprimarily
anoverpoweringlossoftotalisingdistinctionsandaconsequent
senseoffragmentation.Theboundarybetweeneliteandpopular
culture,betweenartandlife,isnomore.Alongwiththat
boundaryhasgonethemesianacsenseofmissionthat
modernistshaveallowedthemselves.
WHATISPOSTMODERNRESEARCH?
An`introduction'typicallyoffersanoverviewnarrativeofa
workanddirectsthereader'sattentiontothekeyissues,creating
asemblanceofacoherencethatprogressesthroughastoryor
argument.Icannot,however,provideanysubmissionofthis
sort.Icanoffer,instead,asimulacralstory,thatis,astoryof
somethingthatneverexisted.Icanalsoofferseveralarguments,
perhapsevenafamilyresemblanceofarguments,thoughsome
ofthemareunrulyandcontradicteachother.Icouldimply,
evensubtly,thatIhavegained,risen,improved,grown
theoreticallyandpersonally.IcouldsuggestthatIhavemade
sharp,carefullyworded,cleararguments,neverviolatingtheir
logicaltrajectories.However,noneofthesearesuitable.Instead,
Ihavewaveredandmisstepped;IhavegonebackwardafterI
havegoneforward;Ihavedriftedsidewaysalonganew
imaginary,forgettingfromwhereIhadoncethoughtIhad
started.Ihavefabricatedpersonaeandunities,andIhave
sometimesthoughtIknewsomethingofwhichIhavewritten.
However,caveatemptor,allthatfollowsisneverthatwhichitis
constructedtoappear,anaptdescription,inmyopinion,ofall
writing.(Scheurich,1997:1)
`...Opening...'
Deconstruction,ifsuchathingexists,shouldopenup.(Derrida,

1987:261)
1
Thinkofthetitleatthetopofthispageasapicture.Anopening,
abeginning,thatisalsonotone,becauseinsinuatedinto
somethingelse.Acrack?Orperhapsaviolentopeningsuchasa
ruptureoranincision.Perhapsadangerousopeninginsome
groundorstructure:anabyss.Orperhapstheopeningmarksthe
spacewheresomeofthedotsinthelinethatstretchesbefore
andafterithavebeenrubbedout.Anerasure.Oritmighteven
beblockingaspacewheresomethingelsemighthaveemerged.
Thenagain,maybetheopeningisholdingsomethingtogether
ratherthandividingit.Asutureorascar,then.Butperhapsthe
openingisnotreallyabreachinthelineatall,butjustakindof
complicationofit.Asortoffoldorpocket.Nowforgetabout
thetitlebeingapicture,andthinkofitagainaswriting.
(StronachandMacLure:1997:1)
SomeIssues
Thetextisaverycrowdedplace(Rath,1999).Thereisyou.
Thereisme.Therearetheresearchparticipants.Andthereare
thehostofothervoicesweareindialoguewithaswewrite,and
read.Theseincludetheauthorsofothertexts,ourcolleagues,
otherresearchparticipants,fundersandsoforth.Someofthese
voicesarequiteevident.Aspartofempiricalresearch,thetext
offersvoicetotheresearchparticipants.Afterall,whatisthe
pointofitall,ifnottorepresenttheirviews,theirlives,their
ambitions,theirproblemsand,withthem,toworkforsocial
changeorimprovepractices?
Thecitationsystemallowsustoacknowledgeothervoices.
Those,ofcourse,whomwerecollectorwehaveaccessto.
Thoseothers,whohavealsocontributedtohowweknowour
topic,simplymarkuswiththeguiltoftheirlackofpublic

recognitionorremembrance.Inthesemorereflexivedays,the
researchertoomaybeinviewthroughtheuseofthepersonal
pronounorthroughtheshortbiographicnoteofwhat,inanother
vein,Butler(1990)referstoastheirembarrassedetcetera's.That
is,theirsex,theirclassandtheir`race'.
Feminismhasalwaysbeenconcernedwithwhoauthorizesthe
text.Writingwomenin,however,hasprovedtobeinsufficient.
Asboththesignsofdifferenceandpoststructuralismhave
taughtus,ingivingvoicetoOtherswemaymerelybegiving
voicetoourselves.Insodoing,wearereplicatingtraditional
knowledgehierarchies.Asanemancipatorymovement,such
thoughtsstrikedeeplyintoourfeministhearts.Toknowoneself
ascoloniserorasanimperialistpowerbrokerisan
uncomfortableethicalposition.Canitberesolved?
Therehavebeenthreemainresponsestothisquestion.First,
therehasbeentheneedtorecogniseauthorialpresence.Thus,
authorsoftextnowwritethemselvesintotheirworkthrougha
rangeofreflexiveandautobiographicaldevices.Yetthebalance
betweenomniscientauthorialsilenceandomniscientauthorial
presenceisadifficultonetogetright.
Second,onecantakeupapoliticalandethicalframeworkthat
refusestooccludethemessypowerrelationsthatexistbetween
authorandauthored.Thefeministcommandmentthatresearch
shouldnotbe`onwomen'but`forwomen'becomestranslated
intoresearching`withwomen.'Atitssimplestlevel,thismeans
developingadialogicrelationbetweenresearcherresearched
fromtheoutset.Suchapositiongoesbeyondrespondent
validation.Heretheaimismoreconcernedwithhavingresearch
respondentsguaranteetheauthenticityoftheaccount.Ratherthe
aimistorecognisethemultilayeredlevelsofmeaningcreated
throughresearchacts.
Third,alongsidethelinguisticturninsocialsciencethinking,we

alsofindthetextualturninsocialscienceproduction.Thishas
givenrisetoagreaterresearchconsciousnessofnarrative
devicesandstrategiesofpersuasion.Inconsequence,thishas
ledtomuchmorerisktakingandexperimentationinthe
presentationofresearchdata.
Thelinguistictextualturnscometogetherthrough
poststructuralism'schallengetotheideathatthereexists`a
single,literalreadingofatextualobject,theoneintendedbythe
author'(Barone,1995:65).Whilstsomereadingsarecertainly
moreprivilegedthanothers,interpretationcannotbecontrolled.
Whilstthiscanpresentproblemsforauthorswhoseektoconvey
specificorunitaryanalyses,multiplicityisalsoastrength.Itcan
signalnewwaysofknowingandnewwaysofbeing.(adapted
fromHughes,1999b)
.............................................
Forusefulsummariesofdifferentepistemologicalpositions
see:
PattiLather(1991)GettingSmart,p191and

Garrick,J(2000)(Mis)InterpretiveResearch,inJGarrickandC
Rhodes(Eds)ResearchandKnowledgeatWork,London,
Routledge,p206)
..................................................
SOCIALREALITY
WHATAREMYASSUMPTIONSANDPRE

SUPPOSITIONS?
AGLOSSARYOFTERMS

...everyhumanbeingasahumanbeingincludingcreatorsof
knowledgecariesaroundcertainultimatepresumptions...
aboutwhathisorherenvironmentlookslike,andabouthisor
herroleinthisenvironment.Thesepresumptionsarenormally
quiteunconsciousandverydifficulttochange,atleastinthe
shortrun.Ourultimatepresumptionswillhaveabearingboth
onhowwelookatproblemsandonhowwelookatexistingand
availablesetsoftechniquesandatknowledgeingeneral.
(ArbnorandBjerke:1997:7)
IfyouagreewithArbnorandBjerkethatourultimate
presumptionswillinfluencewhatwethinkissocialrealityand
alsowillinfluencewhatwebelieveareappropriatewaysof
knowing(andevenchanging)thatsocialreality,thenusethe
glossaryprovidedheretobeginfurtherfollowupreading.
Constructionism
`Itistheviewthatallknowledge,andthereforeallmeaningful
realityassuch,iscontingentuponhumanpractices,being
constructedinandoutofinteractionbetweenhumanbeingsand
theirworld,anddevelopedandtransmittedwithinanessentially
socialcontext...Intheconstructionistview,astheword
suggests,meaningisnotdiscoveredbyconstructed'(Crotty,
1998:42)
`Realitiesareapprehendableintheformofmultiple,intangible
mentalconstructions,sociallyandexperientiallybased,local
andspecificinnature(althoughelementsareoftenshared
amongmanyindividualsandevenacrosscultures)and
dependentfortheirformandcontentontheindividualpersons

orgroupsholdingtheconstructions...Theinvestigatorandthe
objectofinvestigationareassumedtobeinteractivelylinkedso
thatthe`findings'areliterallycreatedastheinvestigation
proceeds...Methodology...hermeneuticalanddialectical'(Guba
andLincoln,1994:110111)
CriticalInquiry
`Thetermcriticaltheoryis(forus)ablankettermdenotingaset
ofseveralalternativeparadigms,includingadditionally(butnot
limitedto)neoMarxism,feminism,materialismand
participatoryinquiry.Indeed,criticaltheorymayitselfusefully
bedividedintothreesubstrands:poststructuralism,
postmodernism,andablendingofthetwo.Whatevertheir
differences,thecommonbreakawayassumptionofallthese
variantsisthatofthevaluedeterminednatureofinquiryan
epistemologicaldifference.Ourgroupingofthesepositionsinto
asinglecategoryisajudgementcall:wewillnottrytodo
justicetotheindividualpointsofview.'(GubaandLincoln,
1994:109)
Critiquestheparadigmsofpositivismandinterpretivismas
waysofknowingthesocialworld.`Criticalinquiry[isnot]a
researchthatseeksmerelytounderstand[itis]aresearchthat
challenges...that[takesupaview]ofconflictandoppression...
thatseekstobringaboutchange'(Crotty,1998:112).Included
inthiscategorywouldbefeminism,Marxism,antiracist
approaches.
`Forallpracticalpurposesthestructuresarereal...thevaluesof
theinvestigator(andofsituated`others')inevitablyinfluencing
theinquiry.Findingsarethereforevaluemediated...
Methodology...dialogicanddialectical'(GubaandLincoln,
1994:110)
Epistemology

`Thetheoryofknowledgeembeddedinthetheoretical
perspectiveandtherebyinthemethodology...An
epistemology...isawayofunderstandingandexplaininghow
weknowwhatweknow'(Crotty,1998:3)
Epistemologiesaretheoriesofknowledgethataddressquestions
suchas`whocanbea`knower',whatcanbeknown,what
constitutesandvalidatesknowledge,andwhattherelationshipis
orshouldbebetweenknowingandbeing(thatis,between
epistemologyandontology)'(StanleyandWise,1990:26).
Hermeneutics
Aformofinterpretivism.Thefocusisonwrittenandunwritten
sources,humanpractices,eventsandsituations,inanattemptto
`read'theseinwaysthatbringsunderstanding.
`Heremeneuticsisanapproachtotheanalysisoftextsthat
stresseshowpriorunderstandingsandprejudicesshapethe
interpretiveprocess'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
Interpretivism
Apositivistapproachwouldfollowthemethodsofthenatural
sciencesand,bywayofallegedlyvaluefree,detached
observation,seektoidentifyuniversalfeaturesofhumanhood,
societyandhistorythatofferexplanationandhencecontroland
predictability.Theinterpretivistapproach,tothecontrary,looks
forculturallyderivedandhistoricallysituatedinterpretationsof
thesociallifeworld.Interpretivismisoftenlinkedtothe
thoughtofMaxWeber(18641920)whosuggeststhatinthe
humansciencesweareconcernedwithVerstehen
(understanding).ThishasbeentakentomeanthatWeberis
contrastingtheinterpretativeapproach(Verstehen,
understanding)neededinthehumanandsocialscienceswiththe
explicativeapproach(Erklaren,explaining),focusedon
causality,thatisfoundinthenaturalsciences.Hencethe

emphasisonthedifferentmethodsemployedineach,leadingto
theclear(thougharguablyexaggerated)distinctionfoundinthe
textbooksbetweenqualitativeresearchmethodsandquantitative
researchmethods.(Crotty,1998:67)
Interpretivismhasmanyvariantshermeneutics,
phenomenology,symbolicinteractionism.
Objectivism
`Objectivismthenotionthattruthandmeaningresideintheir
objectsindependentlyofanyconsciousnesshasitsrootsin
ancientGreekphilosophy,wascarriedalonginScholastic
realismthroughouttheMiddleAgesandrosetoitszenithinthe
ageofthesocalledEnlightenment'.Thebeliefthatthereis
objectivetruthandthatappropriatemethodsofinquirycanbring
usaccurateandcertainknowledgeofthattruthhasbeenthe
epistemologicalgroundofWesternscience'(Crotty,1998:42)
Ontology
`Ontologyisthestudyofbeing.Itisconcernedwith`whatis',
withthenatureofexistence,withthestructureofrealityassuch.
...itwouldsitalongsideepistemologyinformingthetheoretical
perspective,foreachtheoreticalperspectiveembodiesacertain
wayofunderstandingwhatis(ontology)aswellasacertain
wayofunderstandingwhatitmeanstoknow(epistemology)'
(Crotty,1998:10)
Phenomenology
`Phenomenologyisacomplexsystemofideasassociatedwith
theworksofHusserl,Heidegger,Sartre,MerleauPontyand
AlfredSchutz'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
Aformofinterpretivism.Cultureistreatedwithagoodmeasure
ofcautionandsuspicion.Ourculturemaybeenablingbut

paradoxicallyitisalsodisenabling.Cultureallowsusentryinto
acomprehensivesetofmeaningsbutitalsoshutsusofffroman
abundantfontofuntappedsignificance(adaptedfromCrotty,
1998).
Positivism
Thisistheviewthatsocialscienceshouldmirror,asnearas
possible,toproceduresofthenaturalsciences.Theresearcher
shouldbeobjectiveanddetachedfromtheobjectsofresearch.It
ispossibletocapture,throughresearchinstruments,`real'
reality.
Positivismiscritiquedbecausestudyingsociallifeis
considered,inmanyways,tobedifferentfromstudying
chemicalsinalaboratory.Forexample,thesocialresearcheris
imbuedwithvalues,experiencesandpoliticsthatcannotbe
separatedfromthedatathattheresearchproduces.Inaddition,
therearemanyquestionsraisedaboutthenatureofsocialreality
istherea`real'reality(GubaandLincoln,1994)thatwecan
objectivelyknowaspositivismimplies?GubaandLincoln
(1994:108)notethatpositivismis`the"receivedview"thathas
dominatedtheformaldiscourseinthephysicalandsocial
sciencesforsome400years.'`Positivismassertsthatobjective
accountsoftheworldcanbegiven'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:
15).Takecare,however,ifyouthinkthatthereisonlyone
perspectivecalledpositivism.AsCrotty(1998)pointsout,there
havebeenasmanyastwelveidentifiedvarietiesofpositivism.
Postmodernism
`Postmodernismisacontemporarysensibility,developingsince
WorldWarII,thatprivilegesnosingleauthority,methodor
paradigm'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
`Whatthepostmodernistspirithasbroughtintoplayisprimarily
anoverpoweringlossoftotalisingdistinctionsandaconsequent

senseoffragmentation.Theboundarybetweeneliteandpopular
culture,betweenartandlife,isnomore.Alongwiththat
boundaryhasgonethemesianacsenseofmissionthat
modernistshaveallowedthemselves.Undertheinfluenceof
poststructuralism,eventhecleardistinctionbetweendifferent
textshasgone,withintertextualityinvitingustomoveat
randombetweenthemandtoreadoneintotheother.Whatwere
formerlyregardedasclearcutdifferencesinstyleappearto
havevanishedtoo.Where,inthepast,artistsandwriterswere
seentocreateparticularstyles,whichcouldthenbeparodied,
thisisnolongerthecase.Allartisrepetition....Yet,ifparody
haslostitsfunniness,thereisstillaplayfulnessandcarnival
spiritinpostmodernistworktheludicelement.Ironyisforever
tothefore,alongwithallegory,artifice,asymmetry,anarchy'
(Crotty,1998:212213)
`Advocatesofpostmodernismhavearguedthattheeraofbig
narrativesandtheoriesisover:locally,temporallyand
situationallylimitednarrativesarenowrequired'(Flick,1998:
2).
Postpositivism
Thisisaresponsetothecriticismsthathavebeenmadeabout
positivism.Itmaintainsthesamesetofbasicbeliefs,for
example,thatthereisarealityexternaltousbutthatwecan
onlyknowthisimperfectlyandprobabilistically.Objectivity
remainsanideal.Thereisanincreaseduseofqualitative
techniquesinorderto`check'thevalidityoffindings.
`Postpositivismholdsthatonlypartiallyobjectiveaccountsof
theworldcanbeproduced,becauseallmethodsareflawed'
(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
PostStructuralism
BuildsontheworkofSaussurewhoarguedthatlanguageis

structuredintermsofoppositionalcategories.`Accordingto
poststructuralism,languageisanunstablesystemofreferents,
thusitisimpossibleevertocapturecompletelythemeaningof
anaction,textorintention'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
Realism
`realism(anontologicalnotionassertingthatrealitiesexist
outsidethemind)isoftentakentoimplyobjectivism(an
epistemologicalnotionassertingthatmeaningexistsinobjects
independentlyofanyconsciousnness)'(Crotty,1998:10)
Semiotics
`Semiologybringsthestudyoflanguageintocontactwiththe
studyofculture,redefiningwhatcanbetakenasalegitimate
topicofstudyinthesocialsciences.Inordertounderstandhow
languageaffectssocialscientificpractice,thesemiological
approachhighlightstheneedtotakeonthebroaderissueofhow
linguisticsignsmakesensewiththeculturalwayoflifeofthose
interpretingthem.Moreover,theconcernsofsemiologistsrange
acrosstheformsofrepresentationwhicharepartofourlives:
fromtelevisionprogrammestomagazineadvertisements,from
readinganoveltoparticipatinginmassspectatoreventsand
fromthepublicunderstandingofsciencetothecriticalanalysis
oftheroleofsoapoperasincontemporarysociety'(Smith,
1998:240)
`Semioticsisthescienceofsignsorsignsystemsastructuralist
project'(DenzinandLincoln,1994:15)
SymbolicInteractionism
BuildingontheworkofGeorgeMead(19631931)whowasan
NorthAmericansocialpsychologist.Hetriedtoexplainhowthe
humanmind,theself,andselfconsciousnesscomeinto
existence.Hearguedthatmeaningisprimarilyapropertyof

behaviourandonlysecondarilyapropertyofobjects
themselves.(AdaptedfromArbnorandBjerke,1997:34).
`...differentwaysinwhichindividualsinvestobjects,events,
experiences,etc.withmeaningformthecentralstartingpoint
forresearch.Thereconstructionofsuchsubjectiveviewpoints
becomestheinstrumentforanalysingsocialworlds....the
methodologicalimperativeisdrawntoreconstructhesubject's
viewpoint'(Flick,1998:1718passim)
Subjectivism
`Subjectivismcomestotheforeinstructuralist,poststructuralist
andpostmodernistformsofthought(and,inaddition,often
appearstobewhatpeopleareactuallydescribingwhenthey
claimtobetalkingaboutconstructionism).Insubjectivism,
meaningdoesnotcomeoutofaninterplaybetweensubjectand
object[asinconstructionism]butisimposedontheobjectby
thesubject.Heretheobjectassuchmakesnocontributiontothe
generationofmeaning.'(Crotty,1998:9)
IntroductoryTextsonResearchMethodology
Thefollowinglistcontainsintroductorytextsthatwillbeuseful
forunderstandingthephilosophicalunderpinningsofresearch
methodologies.
Arbnor,IandBjerke,B(1997)MethodologyforCreating
BusinessKnowledge,London,Sage(SecondEdition)

Thishasanextremelyusefulchapterthatsetsoutthe
distinctionsbetweenparadigmsandmethodology.Italso
containssummariesofsixcategoriesofknowledge:realityas
concreteandconformabletolaw,astructurethatisindependent
oftheobserver;realityasaconcretedeterminingprocess;reality

asmutuallydependentfieldsofinformation;realityasaworld
ofsymbolicdiscourse;realityassocialconstruction;realityasa
manifestationofhumanintentionality.
Theauthorsnotethatthemoreweapproachthelowernumbers
themore:
a.realityisconsideredtobeobjectiveandrational
b.therelationstophilosophyaredecreased
c.knowledgeasexplanationisseenasthelodestar
d.resultsthataregeneralandempiricalaresought
Ontheotherhand,themoreweapproachthehighernumbers
themore:
a.realityisconsideredassubjectiveandrelative
b.therelationstophilosophyareincreased
c.knowledgeasunderstandingisseenasthelodestar
d.resultsthatarespecificandconcrete,buteidetic,arelooked
for
Crotty,M(1998)TheFoundationsofSocialResearch:
MeaningandPerspectiveintheResearchProcess,London,
Sage

Thistextsgivesadetailedoverviewofinterpretivism(symbolic
interactionism,phenomenology,hermeneutics),
constructionism,criticalresearch(Marx,Habermas,Freireand
feminism),positivismandpostpositivismandpostmodernism
andpoststructuralism.

Cohen,LandManion,L(Eds)(1994)ResearchMethodsin
Education,London,Routledge

Thisisa`classic'introductorytextthatdrawsitsexamplesfrom
schoolbasedresearch.Thetextcoversthemainmethodsof
socialresearch(casestudy,interviews,actionresearch,etc).It
includesausefulintroductiontothevariedwaysthatsocial
realityisconstrued.
Danaher,G,Schirato,JandWebb,J(2000)Understanding
Foucault,London,Sage

Asthetitleimplies,thisisabasicintroduction.Ofcourseyou
shouldalsoreadFoucaultintheoriginal!
Garrick,JandRhodes,C(Eds)(2000)Researchand
KnowledgeatWork:Perspectives,casestudiesand
innovativestrategies,London,Routledge

Thisisnotstrictlyamethodstextbutmuchmoreofan
explorationofknowledgeandresearch.Ithasastrong
postmodernperspective.Itisextremelyusefulbecauseit
introducesyoutotheimplicationsofpostmodernismfor
research;itis(mostly)writteninaveryaccessiblestyle
(particularlythechaptersbyUsherandEdwards);and`learning'
isthecentralconceptexplored.
Griffiths,M(1998)EducationalResearchforSocialJustice:
Gettingoffthefence,Buckingham,OpenUniversityPress

Thistextiswrittenfor`allresearchersineducationalsettings
whoseresearchismotivatedbyconsiderationsofjustice,

fairnessandequity'.Insodoingthetextprovidesasetof
principlesforresearchthatstrivestoachievesocialjustice.The
textaddressesquestionsof`takingsides',issuesoftruthand
methodandpowerknowledge.
Hammersley,M(Ed)(1993)SocialResearch:Philosophy,
PoliticsandPractice,London,Sage

Thisisausefultextbecauseitbringstogethersome`classic'
prevouslypublishedjournalarticles.Itaddressespurposesof
socialresearch,issuesof`race',genderandpower,politicsand
ethics,andvalidityandrelevanceofresearch.
Hood,S,Mayall,BandOliver,S(Eds)(1999)CriticalIssues
inSocialResearch:PowerandPrejudice,Buckingham,Open
UniversityPress

Thiseditedcollectionfocusesonresearchasapoliticalactivity.
Itexplorestherelationsbeweenresearchers,fundersand
policymakersthroughaseriesofcaseexamples.
Hughes,C(2002)KeyConceptsinFeministTheoryand
Research,London,Sage

Thistextwillenableyoutounderstandthevariedwaysthrough
whichkeyterms(equality,difference,choice,time,experience,
care)areconceptualised.
Hughes,J(1990)ThePhilosophyofSocialResearch,London,
Longman(SecondEdition)

Thisisanother`classic'intermsofabroadintroductionto

philosophicalissuesunderpinningresearch.Itisaccessibleand
chaptersfocusaroundpositivismandinterpretivism.
Kendall,GandWickham,G(1999)UsingFoucault's
Methods,London,Sage

DesignedasanintroductiontoFoucault,thistextwillhelpyou
understandFoucaultianprinciplesofarcheologyandgenealogy
aswellasthecentralsignificanceofdiscourse.AsIhavesaid
before,youshouldalsoreadFoucaultintheoriginal.Donot
relytotallyonsecondarysources.
Layder,D(1998)SociologicalPractice:Linkingtheoryand
socialresearch,London,Sage

Thistextisdesignedtohighlightthelinkagesbetweentheory
andresearch.Thetextisimportantbecauseithighlightstherole
ofanalysisasanongoingfeatureofresearchratherthan
somethingthatoccursattheendofadatacollectionperiod.The
textcontainsdiscussionsofconceptindicatorlinksand
introducesanapproachtheauthordescribesas`adaptivetheory'.
Mason,J(2002)QualitativeResearching,London,Sage,
SecondEdition

Whilstaddressingresearcherswhoareinterestedinqualitative
approaches,thistextismoregenerallyusefulasitexplores
aspectsofontologyandepistemologyinanaccessibleway
usingthemetaphorofthe`intellectualpuzzle'.
May,TandWilliams,M(Eds)(1998)KnowingtheSocial
World,Buckingham,OpenUniversityPress


Containsaseriesofchaptersthataddressvariouswaysthatwe
`know'thesocialworld.Thisincludesfeminism,naturalism,
relationism,quantitativeandqualitative.
Punch,K(1998)IntroductiontoSocialResearch:
QuantitativeandQualitativeApproaches,London,Sage

Thechapter`SomeCentralIssues'addressesissuesofsocial
reality.Therestofthetextgivesdetailedexpositionsonthe
varietyofquantitativeandqualitativeapproachestoresearch.
Ramanazanglu,withHolland,J(2002)
Smith,M(1998)SocialScienceinQuestion,London,
Sage/OpenUniversity

ThisOpenUniversitytextoffersaveryaccessibleintroduction
tothenatureofsocialrealityandthekeydebatesthathave
informedunderstandingsofthis.Itisdesignedtoprovidea
guidetotheapproachestoknowledgefrompositivismto
postmodernism.
TuhiwaiSmith,L(1999)DecolonizingMethodologies:
ResearchandIndigenousPeoples,London,ZedBooks

Ifyouareinterestedinresearchthatisdesignedtobe
participatoryandseekstofacilitatecriticalsocialchange,then
thistextisessential.Itexplorestheimplicationsfor
researchers/methodsfromapostcolonialperspective.Itbegins
bynotingthatfromthevantagepointofthecolonized,theterm
`research'isinextricrablylinkedwithEuropeancolonialism;the
wayinwhichscientificresearchhasbeenimplicatedinthe

worstexcessesofimperialismremainsapowerfulremembered
historyformanyoftheworld'scolonizedpeoples.
Warburton,N(1999)Philosophy:TheBasics,London,
Routledge

Therearetwochaptersthatareespeciallyuseful:theexternal
worldandscience.
Journals
Thereareagrowingnumberofmethodologyjournals.The
followingareeitherdedicatedwhollytodiscussionsand
developmentsinresearchmethodologiesormethodologiesform
astrongcomponentinthejournal.Forexample:International
JournalofSocialResearchMethodology;InternationalJournal
ofQualitativeStudiesinEducation;BritishEducational
ResearchJournal;EducationalResearch;Ethnography;
QualitativeInquiry;QualitativeResearch;Sociological
MethodsandResearch;SociologicalResearchOnline.