Methodological theories (1943)

The term ‘methodological’ is prefixed to terms – such as behaviorism, holism, individualism, skepticism and solipsism – to indicate that the doctrine in question is being taken to prescribe a certain method rather than to make a substantive claim about reality.

This is irrespective of whether or not the prescription is based on such a substantive claim (in the case of holism and individualism it usually is; but in that of behaviorism, not necessarily).

Methodological holism and methodological individualism form an important contrast pair in the philosophy of the social sciences, the former seeking explanations in terms of social wholes or structures and the latter seeking them ultimately in facts about individuals.

A Ryan, The Philosophy of the Social Sciences (1970), ch. 8

Methodology is “‘a contextual framework’ for research, a coherent and logical scheme based on views, beliefs, and values, that guides the choices researchers [or other users] make”.[1][2]

It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge such that the methodologies employed from differing disciplines vary depending on their historical development. This creates a continuum of methodologies[3] that stretch across competing understandings of how knowledge and reality are best understood. This situates methodologies within overarching philosophies and approaches.[4]

Methodology may be visualized as a spectrum from a predominantly quantitative approach towards a predominantly qualitative approach.[5] Although a methodology may conventionally sit specifically within one of these approaches, researchers may blend approaches in answering their research objectives and so have methodologies that are multimethod and/or interdisciplinary.[6][7][8]

Overall, a methodology does not set out to provide solutions – it is therefore, not the same as a method.[8][9] Instead, a methodology offers a theoretical perspective for understanding which method, set of methods, or best practices can be applied to the research question(s) at hand

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