Paradigms Lost and Pragmatism Regained
This article examines several methodological issues associated with combining qualitative and quantitative methods by comparing the increasing interest in this topic with the earlier renewal of interest in qualitative research during the 1980s. The first section argues for the value of Kuhn’s concept of paradigm shifts as a tool for examining changes in research fields such as social science research methodology. The next two sections consider the initial rise of the “metaphysical paradigm” that justified the renewed interest in qualitative research and the subsequent problems that have encouraged efforts to replace that paradigm. The final section of the paper advocates a “pragmatic approach” as a new guiding paradigm in social science research methods, both as a basis for supporting work that combines qualitative and quantitative methods and as a way to redirect our attention to methodological rather than metaphysical concerns.