Philosophical assumptions

Following on from the question “why am I doing research?” the next logical step is to align this to a philosophical belief. Using Creswell (2013) excellent chapter on Philosophical assumptions and interpretive frameworks, I realised the philosophy I wanted to use, pragmatism, is better for research where practical actions are taken during the research. Pragmatism appealed to my sense of “reality is what is useful, is practical, and ‘works’” (Creswell, 2013, p.37). However, my research question might work better using social constructivism (or interpretivism) as I am trying to find out the realities that are constructed through lived experiences and interactions with others. Pragmatism would be a great paradigm if I wanted to act on the results of the research.

Social constructivism philosophical beliefs:

Ontology: Multiple realities are constructed through our lived experiences and interactions with others.

Epistemology: Reality is co-constructed between the research and the researched and shaped by individual experiences.

Axiology: Individual values are honoured, and are negotiated among individuals.

Methodology: More of a literary style of writing used. Use of an inductive method of emergent ideas (through consensus) obtained through methods such as interviewing, observing, and analysis of texts.

Pragmatism philosophical beliefs:

Ontology: Reality is what is useful, is practical, and “works”.

Epistemology: Reality is known through using many tools of research that reflect both deductive (objective) evidence and inductive (subjective) evidence.

Axiology: Values are discussed because of the way that knowledge reflects both the researchers’ and the participants’ views.

Methodology: The research process involves both quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection and analysis.

(Adapted from Creswell, 2013, p.36-37)

After reviewing both paradigms I am still in a quandary but leaning towards pragmatism as I am keen to use both qualitative and quantitative data measures.


Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. London: Sage publications.