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FOUNDATION CONCEPTS IN
• ‘the science or study of being’
• Assumption of the nature of social reality
• Claims about what exists
• What it looks like
• What units make it up
• How these units interact with each other
• In short ontology assumptions are concerned
with what we believe constitutes a social
• ‘the theory or science of the method or
grounds of knowledge’
• It consists of ideas about what can count
• What can be known
• What criteria such knowledge must satisfy
in order to be called knowledge rather
• It refers to claims or assumptions made
about possible ways of gaining knowledge
of social reality.
• In short, claims about how what is
assumed to exist can be known. 4
• As techniques or procedures used to collect and
analyze data. ( method of data collection;
method of data analysis )
• The execution of the project
• Refers to discussions of how research is done,
or should be done, and to the critical analysis of
methods of research.
• Refer to the entire research process from
problem identification to data analysis
• A critical evaluation of alternative research
strategies and methods.
5. Research design
• The planning aspect of research project (e.g.
survey design, experiment, case study
longitudinal, cross sectional)
6. Research strategy
• The logic of inquiry
• How to answer the research questions
A MANIFESTO FOR SOCIAL
1. Social research is about answering
2. Three types of research questions:
‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’.
3. Social research also addresses one of the
following objectives: exploration,
description, understanding, explanation,
prediction, intervention (change),
evaluation and impact assessment. 7
4. ‘Why” questions are concerned with
understanding or explanation –explanatory,
‘How’ questions are concerned with
intervention – impact/effect. All other
objectives involve the use of ‘what’
1. RS provide a logic, or a set of procedures, for answering
research questions, particularly “what” and “why”
2. It determine the research designs and methods used in
3. In brief, there are four strategies
• In real research, we normally use a combination of them.
• The Inductive approach to enquiry builds
generalisations out of observations of specific
events. It starts with singular or particular
statements and ends up with general or
• (From small to big)
•It begins explicitly with a tentative
hypothesis or set of hypotheses that
form a theory which could provide a
possible answer or explanation for a
particular problem, then proceeds to
use observations to rigorously test
•(From big to small) 11
• involves the building of hypothetical models as a
way of uncovering the real structures and
mechanisms which are assumed to produce
• The model, if it were to exist and act in the
postulated way, would therefore account for the
phenomena in question.
• In constructing these models of mechanisms that
have usually never been observed, ideas may be
borrowed from known structures and
mechanisms in other fields.
• used by Interpretivism to produce scientific accounts of
social life by drawing on the concepts and meanings
used by social actors and the activities in which they
• acknowledges that human behaviour depends on how
individuals interpret the conditions in which they find
themselves and accepts that it is essential to have a
description of the social world on its own terms. It is the
task of the social scientist to discover and describe this
world from an 'insider' view and not impose an 'outsider'
Inductive Research Strategies
• Starts with the collection data; then proceeds to
derive generalizations using so-called inductive
• Aims: to determine the nature of the regularities,
or networks of regularities in social life. (i.e.
• Once the regularities established they can be
used to explain the occurrence of specific events
by locating them within the pattern of
• It is useful for answering “what” questions but
rather limited in its capacity to answer “why”
• Meticulous and objective observation and
measurement, and the careful and accurate analysis
of data are required to produce scientific discoveries.
• It is based on positivism.
• It entails ontological assumptions about an ordered
universe made of discrete and observable events.
• In its epistemological assumptions, knowledge is
considered to be produced through the use of
human senses and by means of experimental or
• The sense produce “observations” or data.
• Adopting “objective” procedures.
• Consisting three principles:
• Instance confirmation
• The strategy consists four main stages:
• All facts are observed and recorded without selection or
guesses as to their relative importance.
• These facts are analyzed, compared and classified, without
• From this analysis, generalizations are inductively drawn as
to relations between the facdts.
• These generalizations are subjected to further testing.
Deductive Research Strategy
• It is particularly appropriate for answering
of “why” questions.
• The strategy begins with some regularity
that has been discovered (theory) and
which begs an explanation.
• The researcher has to find or formulate a
possible explanation, a theoretical
argument for the existence of behaviour
or social phenomenon under
• The task is to test that theory by deducing one or more
hypotheses from it, and then collect appropriate data.
• Should the match the theory, some support will be provided
for its continuing use, particularly if further tests produce
• However, if the data do not match the theory, the theory
must be either modified or rejected.
• Further testing of other candidate theories can then be
• Therefore, according to this research strategy, knowledge of
the social world is advanced by means of a trial and error
• Deductive also known as hypothetico-deductive
method, or falsificationism.
• Epistemological assumptions: the aim of science is
to discover the uniformities, to find universal
statements that are true because they correspond
to the facts of nature.
• Essential steps
1. Begin by putting forward a tentative idea, a
conjecture, a hypothesis or a set of hypotheses
that form a theory.
2. With the help, perhaps, of other previously
accepted hypotheses, or by specifying the
conditions under which the hypotheses are
expected to hold, deduce a conclusion, or a
number of conclusions.
3. Examine the conclusions and the logic of the
argument that produced them. Compare this
argument with existing theories to see if it
constitutes and advanced in our understanding. If
your are satisfied with this examination, then:
4. Test the conclusion by gathering appropriate
data; make the necessary observations or
conduct the necessary experiments.
5. If the test fails, i.e. if the data are not consistent
with the conclusion, the theory must be falsed. If
the original conjecture does not match the data,
it must be rejected.
6. If, however, the conclusion passes the test, i.e.
the data are consistent with it, the theory is
temporarily supported; it is corroborated, but not
proven to be true.
Retroductive Research Strategy
• Also starts with an observed regularity but
seeks a different type of explanation.
• Explanation is achieved by locating the real
underlying structure or mechanism that is
responsible for producing the observed
• To discover a structure or mechanism that
has been previously unknown, the
researcher has to first construct a
hypothetical model of it, and then proceed
to establish its existence. 23
• This may need to be done by indirect
methods, as the structure or mechanisms
may not indirectly observable.
• The search is for evidence of the
consequences of its existence; should it exist,
certain events can be expected to occur
• Retroduction uses creative imagination and
analogy to work back from data to an
• Social reality is viewed either as a socially
constructed world in which social episodes
are the products of the cognitive resources
social actors bring to them.
• The retroductive research strategy can be
summarized as follows:
1. In order to explain observable phenomena and
the regularities that obtain between them,
scientists must attempt to discover appropriate
structure and mechanisms.
2. Since these structure and mechanisms will
typically be unavailable to observation, it is
necessary to first construct a model of them,
often drawing upon already familiar sources.
3. A model is such that, were it to represent
correctly these structures and mechanisms, the
phenomena would then be causally explained.
4. The model is then tested as a hypothetical
description of actually existing entities and their
relations. To do so, it is necessary to work out
further consequences of the model (that is,
additional to the phenomena to be explained),
that can be tested in a manner open to empirical
5. Is these tests are successful, this gives good
reason to believe in the existence of these
structures and mechanisms.
6. It may be possible to obtain more direct
confirmation of these existential claims, by the
development and use of suitable instruments.
7. The whole process of model-building may
then be repeated, in order to explain the
structures and mechanisms already
Abductive Research Strategy
• The idea of abduction refers to the
process used to generate social scientific
accounts from social actors’ accounts; for
deriving technical concepts and theories
from lay concepts and interpretations of
• It has a very different logic to the other
• The starting point is the social world of the social
actors being investigated: their construction of
reality, their way of conceptualizing and giving
meaning to their social world, their tacit
• This can be discovered from the accounts which
social actors provide.
• Their reality, the way they have constructed and
interpreted their activities together, is embedded
in their language.
• Hence, the researcher has to enter their world in
order to discover the motives and reasons that
accompany social activities.
• The task is to re-describe these motives and actions,
and situations in which they occur, in the technical
language of social scientific discourse.
• Individual motives and actions have to be
abstracted into typical motives for typical actions in
• These social scientific typifications provide an
understanding of the activities, and may then
become the ingredients in more systematic
•Thus, abduction strategy focuses on the
process of moving from lay descriptions
of social life to technical descriptions of
that social life.
•In other words, the abductive strategy
involves constructing theory that is
grounded in everyday activities, and/or
in the language and meaning of social
• It has two stages:
1. Describing these activities and meanings; and
2. Deriving categories and concepts that can
form the basis of an understanding or an
explanation of the problem at hand.
• Brief steps:
1. The social scientist observes certain facts
and event within social reality which
refer to human action.
2. He constructs typical behaviour or
course-of-action patterns from which he
3. He co-ordinates to these typical course-
of-action patterns a personal type, a
model of an actor whom he imagines as
being gifted with consciousness.
4. An so on. 34
The logic of four research
• AIM: To establish universal
generalizations to be used as pattern
• FROM: Accumulate observations or
data; Produce generalization
• TO: use these ‘laws’ as patterns to
explain further observation.
• AIM: To test theories to eliminate false ones and
corroborate the survivor
• FROM: Borrow or construct a theory and express
it as an argument; deduce hypotheses.
• TO: Test hypotheses by matching them with
• AIM: To discover underlying mechanisms to explain
• FROM: Document and model a regularity; Construct a
hypothetical model of a mechanism.
• TO: Find the real mechanism by observation and/or
• AIM: To describe and understand social life
in terms of social actors’ motives and
• FROM: Discover everyday lay concepts,
meanings and motives; Produce a
technical account from lay account.
• TO: Develop a theory and test it iteratively
WHAT RESEARCH STRATEGY / STRATEGIES WILL YOU
APPLY IN YOUR FUTURE RESEARCH?