March 19, 2017

Brief Introduction to Realism and my Research: Initial Key Questions

When you have defined the limits of your discussions the next step is to define the key questions that shall help you to begin your further explorations and developments of your philosophical justifications. For me, the key questions are: what kind of realism am I talking about? And, what does realism offer to my research methodology?

What kind of realism?

As part of the philosophical justifications it’s important to be clear on the variant of realism that you are adopting for your research, and there are many variants of Realism in existence within the social sciences with the most popular being Critical Realism. When I adopted a mixed methods methodology I did begin to propose critical realism as the underpinning Philosophy, but began to doubt the relevancy of the human-structure relationship and the general idea of causality in the social sciences. I shall talk about this more in the future as my understanding further increases but essentially, critical realism defines a three layered ontology and has the aim of locating unobservable causes of observable phenomena within the social sciences, and it’s the notion of causality that I have trouble accepting as the way in which to understand social phenomena. Hence, I’ve moved away from critical realism but subscribe to a realist philosophy in general.

A current task therefore is investigating different types of realism to find out if any existing versions align with my own thinking about reality, or if I have to develop my own realist philosophy, or build upon previous realist ideas in some way. This will take some time to develop but this is a key question when it comes to communicating and elaborating on your realist philosophy in your thesis.

Do note that I am not suggesting that critical realism is not important in Educational research, but for my specific research I no longer feel that it is appropriate in accordance to my own beliefs, and also the phenomena of exploration.

What does Realism offer to methodology?

Not only is it best to explain the variant of realism that you are adopting or developing, but also the way in which that variant links in with and guides the methodology. What are the precise details of the realist approach and in what way does it align with and support the progress of the methodology? This is an area that is currently under continuous development, reformulation and reconstruction as I learn more about the variants of realism and the way in which realism feeds into my methodology.

A key benefit with the methodology I am using is that case study and grounded theory are philosophical-independent, meaning that they can work with a variety of different philosophical positions and therefore there is no right or wrong answer. The way in which realism needs to be implemented is dependent on the phenomena of interest, the research problem, and the research question. This is exactly where it is important to fully elaborate on your philosophical justifications for the methodology that you are using, and to explain why realism is the most appropriate philosophical approach compared to other approaches. What is it exactly about your approach that makes your approach to realism suitable and relative to the context of exploration?

In summary:

This is all work in progress, but no matter what I have read and what I have looked at, and from the trial study, realism is what makes the most sense to me based on the phenomena of interest and the way in which I am collecting the data. It is argued in some cases that philosophical perspectives can change as a person really delves into the research and collects and analyses the data. Whilst this is true, and I have read earlier about a couple of Ph.D. candidates who transitioned from critical realism to social constructionism, I am cautiously and currently convicted by my beliefs in a realist perspective of reality.

- No comments Not publicly viewable

Add a comment

You are not allowed to comment on this entry as it has restricted commenting permissions.

March 2017

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Feb |  Today  | Apr
      1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31      

Search this blog



Most recent comments

  • Thank you :) by Alex Darracott on this entry
  • Keep going! You can make it! by Ya Lei on this entry
  • Thank you for your comment and for your feedback and you are right about the student perspective of … by Alex Darracott on this entry
  • I think that 'objectivism' (like positivism) is over–rated in social sciences (and of course, you wi… by Liviu Damsa on this entry
  • Cider consumption shall come into it when chanting mumble jumble no longer helps :P ;) by Alex Darracott on this entry

Blog archive

Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder