Slide 2 of 16
To begin: method and methodology are sometimes used as though they were synonyms - they aren’t. Methodology is the study of methods and deals with the philosophical assumptions underlying the research process, while a method is a specific technique for data collection under those philosophical assumptions.
Two broad methodological positions are generally discussed: the first is called logical positivism, or empirical positivism, or sometimes just positivism. Logical positivism contains the underlying philosophical assumptions of research in most of the pure and applied sciences - physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, etc. Positivism is based on ideas of: objectivity (i.e., the objective reality of the physical world), scientific method, and empiricism. Positivism was a reaction to the idea that metaphysical speculation could provide a basis for obtaining ‘true’ knowledge of phenomena.
Just as positivism arose out of rejecting metaphysical speculation, so an alternative school has arisen out of rejecting the view that scientific empiricism can be applied to the social world. There is no one philosophical basis, but hermeneutics and phenomenology are seen as providing the basis for what is generally called Interpretative (or Interpretive) Research where the assumption is that social reality can only be understood through social constructions such as language, consciousness and shared meanings. Interpretive research does not predefine variables, but explores human sense-making in naturalistic settings.