Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research
IN this chapter we analyze four paradigms that currently are competing, or have until recently competed, for acceptance as the paradigm of choice in informing and guiding inquiry, especially qualitative inquiry: positivism, postpositivism, critical theory and related ideological positions, and constructivism. We acknowledge at once our own commitment to constructivism (which we earlier called "naturalistic inquiry"; Lincoln & Guba, 1985); the reader may wish to take that fact into account in judging the appropriateness and usefulness of our analysis. Although the title of this volume, Handbook of Qualitative Research, implies that the term qualitative is an umbrella term superior to the term paradigm (and, indeed, that usage is not uncommon), it is our position that it is a term that ought to be reserved for a description of types of methods. From our perspective, both qualitative and quantitative methods may be used appropriately with any research paradigm.
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