Definition of Paradigm in Research

Paradigm is a Greek word which means “Example” or “Model” or “a world-view” i.e. the foundation or base of an idea or knowledge which is acceptable throughout the world and which is taken as a model. In other words, the foundations of certain concepts upon which the theories and principles are based for obtaining knowledge is a called paradigm.

Consider for example in the field of physics, Newton proposed classical approaches called “classical paradigm” while Einstein proposed new and “modern paradigm” in Physics through his equation of relativity (E=MC2). Similarly, Darwin changed the Paleontological paradigm in the field of Bioscience, through his theory of evolution and thus he introduced a new world view in this way.

Positivism in Research is the approach, where each and every type of knowledge is given due consideration. According to this positivism approach every type of knowledge has some basis for the development and these may be

  1. Normative Basis
  2. Interpretive Basis

Normative Paradigm in Research

It is related to the norms of a group, society or population.

Norms are rules ought to be obeyed to be followed while living in a given society, area or time. Social norms and values are accepted anyway without any reasoning and they are of objective nature, without personal likes and dislikes. The social norms depend upon the human’s behavior and the physical phenomena, forming objective basis for knowledge and this basis is called as the Normative Paradigm.

The normative basis of knowledge is totally theoretical and it may or may not have experimental basis. However, the researcher aims to establish theories related to social norms and realities. The normative paradigms depend upon the society or large scale. The important point of the normative paradigm includes:

  1. Norms are anonymous forces in society
  2. They are always objective
  3. The research is only from outside, because one’s personal views may or may not be applicable here
  4. The conclusion of research leads to the formulation of generalized rules while starting from the specific.
  5. It explains one’s behavior according to the causes
  6. One adapts itself according to the norms, without any reason.
  7. It is a macro concept because norms are always generalized to the society on large scale.
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Interpretive Paradigm in Research

The model of knowledge based on the individual’s own views interpretations and experiences. It is a subjective approach towards an individual’s inner world to explore one’s own realities, to interpret one’s own life’s philosophy and the internal rules. The important points of interpretive paradigm in research are:

  1. It is based upon actions and their consequences in future i.e. an individual’s interpretation about the goodness and badness of an event according to his or her own view.
  2. It is a basis of knowledge on a narrow or small scale because it is related to an individual.
  3. Human behavior is dynamic and it changes with the physical phenomena and society.
  4. It involves the personal interest of the research while interpreting the rules and philosophy of life and is thus form general towards specific.
  5. It leads to understand the meaning of actions, not their causes.
  6. One may oppose social norms subjectively while investigating their realities.

Examples of Normative and Interpretive Paradigm

Consider a classroom situation where both the paradigm is used simultaneously. The social norms applied there are accepted by the teachers and students as such (normative one), and the research in this case is a great source of knowledge considering the whole society.

However, a teacher or student may have his/her own philosophy and code of life and it is another basis of knowledge (interpretive paradigm) e.g. honesty, a norm considered as positive attribute throughout, is a normative quality, but one may not consider it the same according to his/her own view, so here it becomes an interpretive one.

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The social paradigm i.e. both normative and interpretive open the ways towards knowledge where research is conducted to explore the truth of social realities and is always to criticism.

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SAKHRI Mohamed

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