Ontological Relativism and Epistemological Constructionist in Social Activism Research

3 pages
552 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Dissertation methodology
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Realism and relativism are without doubt two of the most commonly applied ontological positions. There is a clear difference between ontology and epistemology. While ontology acknowledges the existence of objects and facts, epistemology is all about whether or not a researcher can know them, and if subjectively or objectively. Ontologically, the researcher is either a realist or an anti-realist. A realist is one who agrees that facts are real autonomously of the human mind, i.e. in an objective manner. On the other hand, an anti-realist accepts that reality is merely subjective. Ontological theories operate on the basis of any of the two. Relativism in ontology is a cynics best approach to anti-realism.

Constructivism is an epistemological position that can either be a realist or an anti-realist. Realism occurs in that, biologically, researchers have a limited capacity to understand reality, and tend to progressively know more and more as they conduct research. Anti-realism is that people build their own reality on a basis of their individual experiences. While is a lot of variations exist, scientific constructivism as proposed by Thomas Kuhn can be said to be a realist approach. This is because understanding of reality happens to be a co-operative effort via paradigm shifts such as scientific revolutions.

Relativism is the idea that right or wrong, truth or falsehood, processes of reasoning, and standards of reasoning are as a result of differing frameworks of assessments and convections. Also, their authority is restricted to the context leading to them. In a number of guises, relativism has been among both the most commonly applied and most despised philosophical doctrines of all times. Those who defend it claim it is the only ethical theory worthy of open-minded people.

Mixed Method or Multiple Method in Social Activism Research

Research in social activism can be conducted using multiple methods. They include post-structuralism, new materialism, and philosophical essentialism. Post-structuralism can be defined as a way of contemplating on the world that has to do with language. The theory suggests that any language that people use to describe others will have an impact on how they treat them. It allows individuals to question language that sorts humans into two groups: impaired and normal. According to the theory, people can apply more inclusive language and then treat others in more inclusive manner. However, it is criticized because it tends to concentrate too much on language. The theory tends to overlook the unpleasant realities of what people living with disabilities go through.

New materialism is a newly fronted way of thinking that emerged just the other day. It enables people to focus on language together with the unpleasant realities of life that some individuals go through. This theory is likely to be useful for researchers conducting research on disability as well as activists. On the other hand, philosophical essentialism happens to be a rather contentious topic among theorists that study disability. In the mind of a theorist, it is assumed that for any particular kind of entity such as the human body, there is a specific group of characteristics that each unit of that kind is expected to possess. It is thought that such attributes are in-born, immutable, and not dependent on context. Simply put, a certain individual entity is expected to be in possession of the characteristics in order to qualify.

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