Establishing the Meaning of Ontology, Epistemology and Methodology

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This synoptic essay will establish the meaning of ontology, Epistemology and methodology. This will then create the foundation for this essay to look at Interpretivism and positivism approaches taken in the field of political research. This essay will conclude that the use of ontology is more appropriately related to the methods employed by positivism and to that extent quantitative methods are then employed. However, Interpretivism follows the line of Epistemology and the use qualitative research in order to gain a more subjective view of the world.

Before addressing the question at hand, it is firstly important to understand ontology, Epistemology and methodology. According to the work of Crotty, ontology is 'Ontology is the study of being. It is concerned with 'what is', with the nature of existence, with the structure of reality as such'. The Foundations of Social Research is a well know piece of work executed by Crotty to understand the use of different research methods. This essay will use Crotty's writing to affect by explaining the perspectives of the significance of quantitative and qualitative research methods. As well as explain the role of the objective.

On the next note, Epistemology as defined by Crotty, 'Epistemology is a way of understanding and explaining how we know what we know'. When viewing epistemology through the lens of a constructivist, they would argue that All knowledge, and therefore all meaningful truth, is dependent on human behaviours, which are built in and out of experiences between humans and their environment and formed and communicated in an inherently social sense. In other words, a constructivist will argue that the meaning is not found but rather it is constructed.

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Ona final note, when looking at the research paradigm the last standpoint to understand is the Methodology. According to Crotty methodology is 'the strategy, plan of action, process or design lying behind the choice and use of particular methods and linking the choice and use of the methods to the desired outcomes'. In other words, this is what need to be actioned in order to create the sets of data that one would be looking to acquire.

From a theoretical perspective positivism is based on the intellectual stance of natural scientists who deal with empirical fact in society to generate generalisations. Positivism is concerned with the value of what is given in general, with a more stringent emphasis on pure statistics and facts that are not distorted by human understanding or prejudice. If anyone took an extreme positivist approach, this would mean that the reader would regard an organisation or other associated social structures as actual, just as they would regard 'physical objects or natural phenomena'. The discovery of truths or regularities that are observable and measurable in terms of epistemology. Furthermore, the phenomenon to be observed and evaluated can contribute to the creation of evidence with integrity and significance.

Interpretivism arose from a rejection of positivism from a subjective point of view. interpretivism is more anxious in terms of using more extensive variables when compared to positivism. when applied to a context, and it views humans as distinct from physical objects in that they create greater depth in interpretations, based on the premise that human beings cannot be analysed in the same manner that physical phenomena can. In other words Iinterpretivism is rooted in the studies of anthropology. Interpretivism is an opposite to positivism. However, is sometimes known as anti-positivism. Interpretivism argues that 'truth and knowledge are subjective, as well as culturally and historically situated, based on people's experiences and their understanding of them. Researchers can never be completely separate from their own values and beliefs, so these will inevitably inform the way in which they collect, interpret and analyse data'.

Looking at the question at hand directly, it is almost ironic that the answer be subjective. When looking at the work of an Interpretivist, from this account one would then believe that the truth and therefore knowledge is subjective. However, looking the work of a Positivist one would then be of belief that truth and therefore knowledge is objective. Now when taking into account the quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. The issue now becomes one of ontological and epistemological differences. Classic positivist would be of the view 'that there is a single shared reality which excludes all others'. This would lead to the reassured assumption that positivists are in favour of acquiring quantitative research. Quantitative data is required to be representative as well as reliable. This would then allow positives to be subjective, especially in an ontological sense.

Interpretivists on the other hand are plainly the opposite. To state briefly. Issues are mainly tacked through epistemology. An interpretivist is prepared to sacrifice the reliability of a source in order to gain greater validity of the issue. 'This allows use to see that Interpretivists would be more include use qualitative research methods in order to maintain a close relationship with respondents. The underlying idea of the interpretivist approach is that the researcher is part of the research, interprets data and as such can never be fully objective and removed from the research'.

To conclude/ this essays aim was to establish a foundation to which would be suitable to understand different research methods and the theoretical paradigms that they fit into. The use of ontology, epistemology have played a key role in establishing the use of quantitative and qualitative research. it is also important to understand the way in which quantitative and qualitative research fits into this broader picture through methodology. The key focus on this essay was to focus on the way in which these methodologies are used and how they can be objective. The overall pattern in other literature and too what this essay established is this; quantitative methods suit that of a positive's perspective making it objective. While the view of an interpretivist is subjective and is more encouraged look though the qualitive research methods which subsequently look at the world through epistemology.

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