Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ridiculous confusion

All I have to write is a couple of paragraphs about different ends of the belief spectrum of enquiry (ye wha'?!). Belief system - how you believe reality. It's about what you believe is real, what your assumptions are. It seems reasonable to surface those assumptions, because they influence what you believe you know, and therefore how you go about researching, and I need to explain why I researched it the way I researched it, to justify it.

Except, the belief spectrum of enquiry is full of paradigms, perspectives and isms.
  • Positivism
  • Realism
  • Constructivism
And on top of those there's post-positivism (don't ask me if there's a negativism), critical realism and constructionism. I don't know the difference between constructivism and constructionism. I had thought my approach was constructionist, but now I'm confused and it might be that my ontology is constructionist and my methodology hermeneutically dialectic, though I thought this research was taking a critical realist research perspective because, although the organisation’s IS projects took place in real objective spaces, each individual participant constructed themselves in a particular way in relation to the project or programme setting. Which is they constructed themselves, so aren’t I working to a constructionist philosophy?
Now I have all these different terms to work with:
  • approach
  • ontology
  • methodology
  • perspective
  • philosophy
This bit of my methodology chapter is never going to get writ.

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions and emerging confluences. In N. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3 ed., Vol. 3). Thousand Oaks ;London: Sage Publications.


lizit said...

Is it worth doing a mind dump under each of the terms you identify at the end - sticking as far as possible to plain English, but incorporating the concepts where they seem appropriate, or where you have a dilemma, and then asking your supervisors to help you unpick it.
I suspect we sometimes get so focused on the concepts and using the correct terminology, we lose sight of what we are actually doing, and that those points, applying the 'KISS" principle can be useful.
I anticipate getting myself into similar knots about this time next year.

eLizH said...

Yes, you're right, and that's a good idea. I got tied in knots about these concepts a few years ago, when I was doing the MRes. I've just dug out my books, and tried deciphering all the annotations I've put on them.

I've also tried to lay out a table of the different paradigms against their various features, but a table isn't a good enough way to see what you're doing, so I'm going to have to move on to A5 pieces of card/paper.

AND Skype a supervisor to get a steer.