Chapter 2. Philosophical Assumptions and Interpretive Frameworks
“Whether we are aware of it or not, we always bring certain beliefs and philosophical assumptions to our research” (pg. 15). Various philosophical assumptions and theoretical and interpretive frameworks are highlighted in this chapter. The process of qualitative research compiled by Denzin and Lincoln in 2011 is included five phases (pg. 17):
- The researcher as a multicultural subject;
- Theoretical paradigms and perspectives;
- Research strategies;
- Method of collection and analysis;
- The art, practice and politics of interpretation and evaluation.
The author also mentions three reasons why philosophy is important (pg. 18):
a. It shapes how we formulate our problem and research questions to study and how we seek information to answer the question.
b. These assumptions are deeply rooted in our training and reinforced by the scholarly community in which we work.
c. Reviewers make philosophical assumptions about a study when they evaluate it.
Writing philosophical assumptions into qualitative research, it says that in some qualitative studies they remain hidden, but actually they could be shown in various sections of qualitative studies where the audiences may ask about the underlying philosophy of study.
Qualitative research implies four profoundly important philosophical assumptions (page 21): Qualitative researchers assume multiple realities, formed or dependent on the subjective experiences of the people studied (ontological and epistemological assumptions respectively). Qualitative researchers proceed from the ground up collecting and analyzing data inductively, revealing their values and biases on their way up to a greater theory which would encompass all the findings (methodological and axiological assumptions respectively).
The assumptions mentioned are embedded within the following interpretative frameworks (pages [23,30]):
Pstpositivism: Its inquire implies a series of locally related steps and multiple levels of data analysis that resemble a scientific report or quantitative research. This framework tends to be reductionistic, logical, empirical, and deterministic.
Social Constructivism: It is more open to complexity. It relies on the participants’ perceptions through social and historical frames; there is a social construction of meaning.
Transformative Frameworks: It understands knowledge as basically non neutral and uses it to change society. The purpose of knowledge construction is to aid people to improve society through participatory and emancipator actions.
Postmodernist Perspectives: Devoted to power relations in the social sphere the individual or even the language, postmodernisms uses “deconstruction” as a tool to analyze communication.
Pragmatism: Nothing is more important than solving the problem, finding what works. Methods are secondary.
Feminist Theories: Center on making problematic the diverse situation of women and the institutions that frame those situations. It’s goals are to find collaborative and nonexploitative relationships to conduct transformative research.
Critical Theory: Critical theory perspectives are concerned with empowering human beings to transcend the constraints placed on them by race, class, and gender (p30). If one wants to dive deeper into this theory he gives suggestions about some central themes to explore, which could certainly help in guiding research. Critical race theory (CRT) is then discussed and this theory focuses theoretical attention on race and how racism is deeply embedded within the framework of American society (p31). This theory encompasses three main goals. The first goal is to present stories about discrimination from the perspective of people of color, as a second goal CRT argues for the eradication of racial subjugation while simultaneously recognizing that race is a social construct, and finally the third goal of CRT addresses other areas of difference, such as gender, class, and any inequities experienced by individuals (p31-32).
Queer theory: It is characterized by a variety of methods and strategies relating to individual identity. On pages 32 and 33, a good overview of the queer theory stance is given in bullet points. I found this overview very helpful in understanding the theory and how it relates to the topic of identity.
Disability theories: In this section Creswell states that disability inquiry addresses the meaning of inclusion in schools and encompasses administrators, teachers, and parents who have children with disabilities (p33).
Towards the very end of the chapter a table is given which links the philosophical assumptions of ontology, epistemology, axiology, and methodology with the interpretive frameworks. The table is helpful in understanding how these philosophical assumptions take different forms given the interpretive framework used by the inquirer. The table can be found on pages 36 and 37.