What are philosophical assumptions and underpinnings of qual…

Philosophical assumptions are the foundational beliefs and principles that underpin any research approach, including qualitative research. They shape the researcher’s perspective and guide their methods, design, and analysis. In the case of qualitative research, philosophical assumptions play a crucial role in formulating and conducting research inquiries.

Qualitative research is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of research methods such as phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study. One approach within qualitative research is Generic Qualitative Inquiry (GQI), which focuses on exploring phenomena and generating an understanding of the experiences and perspectives of research participants. GQI adheres to specific philosophical assumptions that shape its methodology and implementation.

One of the primary philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research, including GQI, is constructivism. Constructivism acknowledges that knowledge is socially and subjectively constructed rather than objectively existing in a pre-determined reality. This assumption suggests that multiple perspectives and interpretations are valid, emphasizing the importance of understanding individual experiences and contexts. In GQI, this constructivist standpoint guides the researcher to explore the subjective interpretations and meanings that participants assign to their experiences.

Another philosophical assumption fundamental to qualitative research, including GQI, is the interpretive paradigm. The interpretive paradigm asserts that humans actively construct meanings and interpretations of their experiences. It recognizes the influence of the researcher’s own interpretations and acknowledges that subjective understanding is a key component of research. In the context of GQI, this assumption guides the researcher to analyze and interpret participants’ narratives and accounts to gain insights into their experiences.

A crucial aspect of qualitative research, including GQI, is the recognition of the researcher as an instrument. This assumption aligns with the phenomenological tradition that emphasizes the researcher’s presence, subjectivity, and role in data collection and analysis. The researcher’s perspective, biases, and experiences are acknowledged and considered integral to the research process. In GQI, this assumption warrants the researcher’s self-awareness and reflexivity to understand and acknowledge the impact of their presence on the research findings.

In addition to constructivism, the assumption central to qualitative research is that reality is context-bound and socially constructed. This assumption emphasizes the importance of understanding the social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape individuals and their experiences. In GQI, this assumption guides the researcher to explore the broader social and cultural factors that influence participants’ experiences and interpretations.

In terms of epistemology, qualitative research, including GQI, aligns with a relativistic standpoint. Relativism acknowledges that knowledge is situated within specific social and cultural contexts, and that multiple interpretations and understandings can coexist. It emphasizes the understanding of phenomena from the perspectives of those who experience it. In GQI, this assumption allows the researcher to explore and acknowledge the diversity of interpretations and meanings that participants assign to their experiences.

Ontologically, qualitative research, including GQI, aligns with a constructionist standpoint. Constructionism acknowledges that reality is not fixed or predetermined, but rather shaped through interactions and interpretations. It recognizes the active role of individuals and social structures in constructing and negotiating meaning. In GQI, this assumption guides the researcher to explore the construction of meanings and interpretations within the context of participants’ experiences.

Ethics also constitute a crucial consideration in qualitative research, including GQI. Research ethics in qualitative research emphasize the importance of maintaining privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent. They also highlight the need for ethical interaction with participants and minimizing harm. In GQI, ethical considerations are imperative in ensuring the well-being and rights of participants, as well as the integrity and trustworthiness of the research findings.

In conclusion, the philosophical assumptions underpinning qualitative research, including GQI, shape the methodology and implementation of the research. These assumptions include constructivism, interpretivism, the recognition of the researcher as an instrument, context-bound and socially constructed reality, relativism, and constructionism. Additionally, ethical considerations are crucial in qualitative research, ensuring the well-being and rights of participants. Understanding and embracing these philosophical assumptions is essential for researchers embarking on qualitative research, enabling them to conduct rigorous and meaningful investigations.