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Qualitative Methods and Empirical Support
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2282-8071
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this paper I discuss the concept of empirical support in the context of qualitative methods (for short, qualitative support). A conceptualization of empirical support that is specific for qualitative methods is proposed. This conceptualization is based on the analysis of a case of qualitative research. I provide arguments that this conceptualization identifies specific and non-trivial properties of qualitative support and that, at the same time, this conceptualization supports the claim that there is no methodological separation between quantitative and qualitative methods concerning empirical support.

Keyword [en]
Qualitative social research methods, Empirical support, Philosophy of the social sciences
National Category
Didactics Philosophy Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140470OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-140470DiVA: diva2:1079389
Available from: 2017-03-08 Created: 2017-03-08 Last updated: 2017-03-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A Field of Veiled Continuities: Studies in the Methodology and Theory of Educational Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Field of Veiled Continuities: Studies in the Methodology and Theory of Educational Research
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Empirical educational research enjoys a methodological and theoretical debate that is characterized by a number of unresolved and lively debated controversies. This compilation thesis is an attempt to contribute to this debate using the toolbox of philosophy of science.

The thesis consists of an introductory chapter and four essays. In the introductory chapter I identify three methodological and theoretical controversies that are discussed within the field of educational research. These are: 1) the controversy concerning the scientific status of educational research; 2) the controversy between cognitive and sociocultural theories of learning; and, 3) the controversy between realist and constructionist interpretations of theories of learning.

I provide in the essays a critical assessment of the claims behind each of these controversies, and argue for an alternative reconstruction of these issues.

In Essay I, I criticize a view about the interpretation of human action, labeled in the text as interpretivism. This view posits a sharp separation between the natural and social sciences, to the effect that the methods of the latter cannot be applied to the former. The first controversy seems to rest on this position. As I argue, the arguments in support of interpretivism are contradicted by actual research practice. I conclude that the interpretivistic claims lack support and that the general separation claim appears as problematic.

A further debate has fueled the first controversy, that is, the supposed distinction between qualitative and quantitative methods. In Essay II, I argue against this distinction. More specifically, I discuss the concept of empirical support in the context of qualitative methods (for short, qualitative support). I provide arguments that although there are two specific and non-trivial properties of qualitative support, there is no methodological separation between quantitative and qualitative methods concerning empirical support.

Considered together, the first two essays indicate two points of methodological continuity between educational research and other scientific practices (such as the natural sciences). I therefore conclude that the controversy concerning the scientific status of educational research rests in large part on unjustified claims.

Essay III focuses on the second controversy. In this article I argue that Suárez’ inferential approach to the concept of scientific representation can be used as an account of scientific representation in learning, regardless of whether learning is understood as a cognitive or social phenomenon.

The third controversy is discussed in Essay IV. Here, I discuss some ontological aspects of the framework of the actor-network theory. Reflecting on the use of this framework in the research field of Networked Learning, I argue that the assumption of an ontology of relations provides the solution for two puzzles about the ontology of networks. The relevance of my argument for the third controversy is that it suggests a point of connection between constructionist and realist interpretations of the ontology of learning.

The last two essays suggest two points of continuities between theoretical frameworks that have been and still are argued to be incompatible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University, 2017. 75 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, 49
Keyword
Methodology of Educational Research, Educational Theory, Educational Philosohy, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Causal Explanations of Actions, Qualtative Methods, Scientific Representation, Learning, Actor Network Theory, Ontic Structural Realism
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140475 (URN)978-91-7649-732-6 (ISBN)978-91-7649-733-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-05-05, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-04-10 Created: 2017-03-09 Last updated: 2017-03-28Bibliographically approved

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