Positivism vs Interpretivism

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Compare and contrast positivist and interpretive perspectives underpinning social research- This essay intends to investigate by comparing and contrasting positivist and interpretive perspectives that surround social research. It will look into the use of methods such as quantitative and qualitative research and the effects and outcomes that this has in relation to social research. This will include the variations amongst them in both a positive and negative light. Before research can be undertaken the researcher must investigate the various methodologies, methods, theoretical perspectives and philosophical bases which surrounds the research. This will then enable researchers to use a wide variety of research methods in order to enhance their own knowledge and theory on the research to be undertaken. Without this background knowledge the researcher would struggle to aim their research into a certain direction resulting in unsuccessful data and outcomes. (Payne, 2005) Research gives an insight into the problems within society and seeks to inform us on the developing problems of the world in order for us to be able to combat these problems and understand the root of the issues. ‘Basic thrust of all research is to solve problems and to expand knowledge of our universe which necessitates that it is carefully and systematically conducted’ (Taylor, 2005). Without the use of research in society it would make it hard for us to overcome barriers which help in enabling us to evolve into the future. This would in turn keep us in the dark ages of life unable to progress further leaving us living in an age of uncertainty. (Taylor, 2005) Once a researcher has found their research question in which they intend to investigate they need to gather an understanding into the various kinds of methodologies and methods in which they will employ in the research; which theoretical perspective lies behind the methodology and what epistemology informs this theoretical perspective. (Crotty, 1998) This includes the use of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Quantiative research is used in society to generate research which will give a large reading of results taken from a sample to the population of interest. It looks into measuring the views and opinions highlighted in the research sample and is often followed up by the action of qualitative research. This data is often seen to be collected through the use of techniques such as online questionnaires, on-street and telephone interviews. With Qualitative research the researchers aim is to gain an understanding of the research and the underlying reasons and motivations in which can be found. It brings from this research insights into the problems in which have emerged in turn generating ideas and hypotheses for the later use of quantitative research. The data for this kind of research takes a backseat approach in the form of unstructured and structured techniques such as group interviews and individual depth interviews in which the research is noted in a less intimidating way. (Taylor, 2005) ‘Research is needed to find answers to problems in our society, to experiment with the most expeditious way for conducting research to solve societal problems and to validate procedures which can be replicated.’ (Taylor, 2005) These two specific methodologies have been found to share common grounds with each other with both being concerned surrounding reliability and study designs. (Taylor, 2005) There are two main types of epistemologies, these include positivist and anti-positivist. The use of positivism is used as an approach which uses precise measurement of quantitative data. The criteria of positivism as a theoretical perspective shapes reality to be objective: free of bias, opinion or prejudice; and the belief that there is only one reality in nature, one truth. The reasoning behind positivist approach in relationship to social research is used to explain social life and predict its course...
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