Theoretical issues are fundamental to any research process because they constitute what researchers ‘silently think’ about research (Scott and Usher, 2011). Therefore, philosophical assumptions about ontology, epistemology and axiology are critical in undertaking a research process (Klenke, 2008). In the following sections, clarity on the philosophical approaches and research paradigm for this study will be provided.
Ontological approach addresses the philosophical question about the nature of reality and how it affects the methods of doing research. This approach focuses on ways of life and the relations behind social realities. According to Ritchie and Lewis (2003), ontology emphasizes on multiple and dynamic realities with no consideration of external realities. Qualitative researchers agree that ontology describes people views on the nature of reality both objectively and subjectively. Ontological assumptions affect our opinions and views on what is real and what is not. Such assumptions must be identified and considered so that the findings of particular phenomena can be objective and credible.
Epistemology consists of appropriate methods of finding out the nature of the world through knowledge acquisition. This approach emphasizes on knowledge acquisition and use to form basis and background for explanation of social realities. In epistemology, researchers opt to work with visibly evident social realities to come up with law- like conclusions akin to the ones created by natural and physical scientists (Cohen, et al., 2011). However, this approach has been termed more subjective especially when gathering information directly from participants through data collection methods such as interviews and observation (Beck 1979).
Creswell (1998) defines paradigms as world diverse views, while Denzin and Lincoln (1994) describe a paradigm as a set of basic beliefs that deal with ...Show more