Positivism and Postpositivism Approach to Research
1. Positivist paradigm
- The term positivism was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in the 19th century and reflected by Francis Bacon, John Locke, and Isaac Newton.
- The term positivist has no negative connotation.
- In philosophy, positivism mainly adheres to the idea that ‘factual’ knowledge gained through observation is trustworthy.
- Positivism relies upon quantifiable perceptions that prompt measurable examinations.
- Here, the role of the researcher is limited to collecting data collection and interpreting objectively.
- Positivists usually adopt the deductive approach, the concentration is on facts.
- The researcher is independent which means maintaining minimal interaction with participants and research is purely objective & the world is external.
- There is one reality, knowable within probability.
2. Scientifically, positivism relies on the following aspects of science:
- Science is deterministic as it explains the cause-and-effect relationships.
- Science is mechanistic as researchers develop hypotheses to be proved or disapproved via the application of specific research methods.
- Science uses methods such as the selection of samples, measurements, analysis, and reaching conclusions about the hypothesis.
- Science deals with empiricism, where it is assessed as objective, as seen or measured. Science must be value-free.
3. Drawbacks of positivism
a. Positivism as epistemology is related to the accompanying arrangement of impediments.
- Positivism depends on involvement as a legitimate source of knowledge and information.
- A wide range of procedures can be seen as a specific variety of activities of people or connections between people.
- Appropriation of positivism in business studies and different examinations can be reprimanded for dependence on the norm.
- Sometimes positivism is a rejection of metaphysics. It is a place that holds the objective of learning which is simply to describe the phenomena that we experience.
- As we discussed, positivism is associated with quantitative research strategies.
- There is one specific perspective on how research ought to be directed, which suggests that we should carry out research in social sciences in ways that are similar to the methods within the natural sciences.
- Two people observe the same event but understand it differently, based on their own experiences and beliefs.
- Objectivity can be achieved by using multiple measurements, and observations and triangulating the data to gain a more clear comprehension of what’s going on as a general rule.
- It is important to note that the post-positivists share a lot in common with positivists, but most of the research approaches and practices in social science today fit better into the post-positivist category.
- Since the inception of the 21st century, the focus of research shifted from ‘reality’ to ‘critical realism’.
- Physicists like Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr focused on this reality.
- The emphasis was turned away from absolute certainty to probability.
- Now, the scientist was portrayed as a person who constructs knowledge, instead of just passively noting the laws of nature, and no matter how faithfully the scientist adheres to scientific method research, research outcomes are neither totally objective nor unquestionably certain.
- This approach was called up as post-positivism, which describes a less strict form of positivism.
- Post positivists support the idea that social scientists and natural scientists share the same goals for research and employ similar methods of investigation.
- It tends to be distinguished from positivism as indicated by whether the attention is on hypothesis verification(positivism) or theory misrepresentation(post-positivism).