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Methods: the techniques or procedures used to gather and analyse 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. 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.
Ontology: the nature of reality, the nature of social reality
Ontology: Nominalism assumes that social reality is relative, and the social world is mainly names, concepts, and labels that help the individual structure reality. These labels are artificial creations. Realism assumes that the real world has hard, intangible structures that exist irrespective of our labels. The social world exists separate from the individuals perception of it. The social world exists as strongly as the physical world.
Epistemology: Positivists believe that one can seek to explain and predict what happens in the social world by searching for patterns and relationships between people. They believe one can develop hypotheses and test them, and that knowledge is a cumulative process. Anti-positivists reject that observing behaviour can help one understand it. One must experience it directly. They reject that social science can create true objective knowledge of any kind.
Voluntarism vs Determinism : The Human Nature Debate Are humans determined by their environment, or do they have "free will"
Ideographic inquiry focuses on "getting inside" a subject and exploring their detailed background and life history. They involve themselves with people's normal lives, and look at diaries, biographies, observation. Nomothetic relies more on the scientific method, and hypothesis testing. They use quantitative tests like surveys, personality tests, and standardized research tools.
Functionalist Paradigm (objective-regulation) This has been the primary paradigm for organizational study. It assumes rational human action and believes one can understand organizational behaviour through hypothesis testing. Interpretive Paradigm (subjective-regulation) This paradigm "seeks to explain the stability of behaviour from the individual's viewpoint". Researchers in this paradigm try to observe "on-going processes" to better understand individual behaviour and the "spiritual nature of the world". Radical Humanist Paradigm (subjective-radical change) Theorists in this paradigm are mainly concerned with releasing social constraints that limit human potential. They see the current dominant ideologies as separating people from their "true selves". They use this paradigm to justify desire for revolutionary change. It's largely anti-organization in scope. Radical Structuralist Paradigm (objective-radical change) Based on this paradigm, theorists see inherent structural conflicts within society that generate constant change through political and economic crises. This has been the fundamental paradigm of Marx, Engles, and Lenin
Navigating Theory: a PhD student’s ongoing journey
a PhD student’s ongoing
Slides available on Slideshare
• Health warnings
• Professional background
• My research question:
What role does theory play in teaching with digital technologies
1. Theories of learning – what is learning, how does it occur?
2. Theories of teaching – what do teachers do to enable
3. Disciplinary areas – what is knowledge?
4. Theories of technology – is technology determined or
First principles – what I am not doing…
I am not:
• directly observing nor experiencing first hand
• tracking changes in teaching over time
• intervening in teaching
• solving a teaching problem
• starting with a hypothesis
• specifically concerned with power or seeking
What can I research?
• How lecturers report their use of digital
• How lecturers position themselves in relation to
• How lecturers present their teaching in relation to
their discipline and institution
Rinse and repeat…
Other research on education and
• Empiricist, measurable results e.g. staff uptake,
students grades, retention, satisfaction
• Critical theory: seeking to uncover privileges &
working towards emancipatory agendas
• Systems theory-based: computer science-informed,
Crotty, M., 1998. The Foundations of
Social Research: Meaning and
Perspective in the Research Process,
Epistemology Theoretical perspective Methodology Methods
(and their variants)
• Symbolic interactionism
Critical inquiry Feminism
Feminist standpoint research
Measurement and scaling
Visual ethnographic methods
Conversation analysis etc.
Crotty (1998), Table 1, p5
Activity A (Crotty handout)
1. Where you can, fill in empty row with your
research project epistemology, theoretical
perspective, methodology and methods.
2. Turn to a neighbour and explain what you have
and any areas you are having difficulty.
Burrell and Morgan (1979) Sociological Paradigms and
Organizational Analysis, p3
The subjective – objective dimension
Sociology of Regulation or Radical
a) The status quo
b) Social order
d) Social integration
f) Need satisfaction
a) Radical change
b) Structural conflict
c) Modes of
The sociology of REGULATION is
The sociology of RADICAL CHANGE
Burrell and Morgan (1979), p18
Four Paradigms for the Analysis of
‘Radical humanist’ ‘Radical structuralist’
THE SOCIOLOGY OF RADICAL CHANGE
THE SOCIOLOGY OF REGULATION
Burrell and Morgan (1979), p22
THE SOCIOLOGY OF RADICAL CHANGE
THE SOCIOLOGY OF REGULATION
Burrell and Morgan (1979), p29
Theories within the Four Paradigms
‘Radical structuralist’‘Radical humanist’
Activity B (Burrell & Morgan)
Discuss with a neighbour where you might plot your
research position within the four paradigms and why.