Minita Sanghvi (Skidmore College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6371-8.ch001


This chapter provides an essential building block for this book, as it elucidates the philosophical foundations of the interpretivist and positivist paradigms that beget the qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It examines the historical beginnings of qualitative research and focuses on the following issues: a) location of the researcher and its effects on authorship, b) power dynamics with native researchers, c) researching sensitive topics, d) balance of power, and e) citation practices in interpretive inquiry. The aim of this chapter is to help situate the author to be more reflexive about his or her research.
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Philosophical Foundations

To understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, it is important to first delve into the philosophical foundations of research that beget these particular methodologies specifically positivist and interpretivist paradigms. Positivist traditions are rooted in the philosophy of Descartes while interpretivist traditions are based on the philosophical ideas of Kant, which were later developed by Edmund Husserl (Prasad, 2005). Descartes promoted rational thought while Husserl and other German idealists advanced the idea that reality does not exist in the outside world rather within human consciousness itself (Prasad, 2005).

Paradigms are overarching philosophical systems that guide research and praxis (Willis, 2007). There are five major aspects of a paradigm (Chalmers, 1982). They are: a) explicitly stated laws and theoretical assumptions, b) standards used to apply these fundamental laws in myriad situations, c) instrumentation and instrumental techniques that bring the laws of the paradigm to bear on the real world, d) general metaphysical principles that guide work within the paradigm, and e) general methodological prescriptions about how to conduct work within a paradigm (Chalmers, 1982, p. 91; Willis, 2007).

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