Assessment 1 “Research Philosophy, Methodology and Quantitative Methods”AbstractThis study points out the quantitative research philosophy, methodology and quantitative methods. This study investigates the philosophy that was grounded for building the quantitative research methods. It also discusses the issues associated with sampling, validity and reliability. I. Background and purpose1.1 Relevant theoretical frameworksAccording to Harris (1979) science is 'a superior way for human beings to attain knowledge about the world in which we live'. Within the social sciences, there are two major theoretical perspectives for the scientific attainment of knowledge: positivism (the natural science paradigm) and phenomenology (Bogdan & Taylor 1975).
The natural sciences, modelling the positivist philosophy, are concerned solely with observations of phenomena. The social sciences are additionally challenged with understanding the meaning of the phenomena, not a readily observable process (Schwartz & Jacobs 1979). Positivism, a deductive process of knowledge attainment, seeks to verify facts and causal relationships stated in existing theories. The true experiment is the classical example of positivism. Phenomenology, and inductive processes, generate theory from facts obtained within the natural setting of the phenomenon. The distinct contrast in the philosophy of this methodology from positivism is evident in grounded theory.
The true experiment is a descendant of positivism and later logical positivism. The logical positivists devised two classes of statements: formal propositions based on logic or mathematics and factual propositions which are to be empirically verified (Harris 1979). In keeping with this philosophy, the true experiment seeks to verify facts or causes of social phenomena with little regard for subjective states of individuals (Bogdan & Taylor 1975). The goal is the establishment of general laws common to the phenomenon regardless of the setting.
Mischler (1979) is particularly critical of the positivist methodology of context stripping. He believes the environment of the phenomenon is meaningful to the causal relationship and the understanding of human behaviour. Mischler accuses the true experimental design researcher of sacrificing meaning only to meet the assumptions of positivism. He criticizes: the use of one method for a diverse setting of subjective matters; the development of general laws which are expected to be applicable to all cases; andthe use of the statistical model as the ideal. Researchers of the phenomenological schools, i.e.
grounded theorists, reject the assumptions of positivism, and attempt to humanize the research process. 'The project of phenomenological sociology thus concerns itself with the development of methodologies and modes of description which dispense with the distinction between (person) as subject and (person) as object' (Phillipson 1973). Grounded theory seeks to generate theory through an understanding of human behaviour from the actor's perspective in the natural setting (context) (Glaser & Strauss 1967). The major assumption of phenomenology is that knowledge of social facts is best attained when the researcher gets inside the natural setting and attempts to see (understand) the phenomenon as the subjects do.
Data are thus collected and analysed in the natural language of the subjects rather than the statistical notations of positivism (Schwartz & Jacobs 1979). Mischler (1979) succinctly distinguishes the salient points of each philosophy. Phenomenology1 Intertwines observer and phenomena2 Many different but equal truths dependent upon the purpose and focus of the investigator