This unique book explains the central role that research paradigms play in the design and conduct of social research. The authors argue that social research should not just describe or confirm a social problem, but should seek to find an explanation for it so that it can be tackled - and to so requires research with 'eyes philosophically wide open'.
Important philosophical and practice elements of three widely recognized paradigms - neo-positive, interpretive and critical realist - are carefully elaborated and their use in action illustrated with detailed examples. The authors show that the philosophical assumptions of a chosen paradigm must match those embedded in a characterization of a research problem and its context. This paradigm orientation is shown to be fundamental to appropriately framing a problem, formulating research questions, deciding on a logic of enquiry and selecting and using methods to investigate them.
Ultimately, an appropriate paradigm orientation to social research provides a dispassionate, rigorous and effective basis for the production of new social scientific knowledge. Following on from Blaikie's Approaches to Social Enquiry and Designing Social Research, this innovative book will be invaluable to upper-level and research students, their lecturers and supervisors, and researchers across the social sciences.