The pragmatic paradigm originated in the United States in the late 19th century. The originators and contributors that are associated with the early development of pragmatic paradigm include, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) and William James (1842–1910). Charles Sanders was the originator behind the pragmatic paradigm while William James was his colleague he defended the idea and promoted it later.
In the next phase of development John Dewey (1859–1952) and his friend Jane Addams (1860–1935) developed social work in light of pragmatist ideas. This gained a lot of importance and prominence. Throughout the history of pragmatism this approach went through ups and downs. In the 20th century the pragmatic paradigm gave birth to neopragmatism. Neopragmatism was criticized by several researchers who favored the classical pragmatic paradigm approach.
In recent years pragmatism has been worked by several researchers in North America, South America, and in Central Europe.
What is pragmatic paradigm?
In recent years it has been observed that pragmatic paradigm is the most suitable paradigm to be used in social science research. Pragmatism is a paradigm that includes ideas, methods, approaches, principals, or a mix of these to explain a solution to a research problem. This paradigm is totally opposite to positivist paradigm and constructivism. Pragmatism focuses on what can be achieved or what works rather than on the positivists principal of absolute truth or reality. It does not totally rely on interpretivist approach not on the positivist approach. The rise of pragmatic paradigm occurred side-by-side with the rise of the mixed-methods approach.
Pragmatism accepts a flexible approach to solving research problems. According to pragmatism there cannot be one way to solve a problem but a mix of approach can better help solve a problem and find the truth. Pragmatists believe that there cannot be a single reality but multiple realities. The pragmatism paradigm follows both positivism and interpretivism to seek the answers to the problems. Therefore, this research paradigm would suggest a mixed-method approach to research. A mixed-method approach means that such research will use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The pragmatists believe that there is a single real world but different people can have different views about that real world. On the other hand positivists believe that there is only single reality that can be approached in one way. Pragmatists study the actions of the individuals in light of their actions. The pragmatist seeks knowledge according to the circumstances in which the phenomenon occur.
Over the past few years, a debate over whether there should have a qualitative or quantitative methodology for social science research remain the focus. The emergence and development of mixed-method methodology changed the way social science research has been conducted in the past. It also opened new ways to answer social science research problems. In pragmatic paradigm the researchers use both qualitative and quantitative methodology in a sequential manner.
Pragmatism paradigm contribution
The pragmatic paradigm has great contribution in the field of social science research. The main contribution is that it makes the social science research transferable. The pragmatists claim that the knowledge gained through a mixed-method approach can be if not completely partially applied to other circumstances. The knowledge gained can be analyzed to know what part of the knowledge can be applied to another similar circumstance in another settings. This led to improved generalizability of the social science research.
The other significant progress that pragmatism made is the possibility of inter-subjectivity in social science research. Inter-subjectivity made it possible for new ways to solve social science problems and hypothesis. It has given social science research a broader spectrum. Pragmatism has provided an effective alternative to previously qualitative-only research. Though it also means that there should have to have a properly integrated methodology to reach to the right answers of the research questions.
- Legg, Catherine and Hookway, Christopher, ” Pragmatism”. Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pragmatism/
- Brierly, J. A. The University of Sheffield. “The role of a pragmatist paradigm when adopting mixed methods in behavioural accounting research”. International Journal of Behavioural Accounting and Finance, 6 (2). pp. 140-154. ISSN 1753-1969 http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/115066/3/pragmatism-ijbraf-paper.pdf
- “Pragmatism research philosophy”. Research Methodology.
- Morgan, D. L. (January 2007). “Paradigm lost and pragmatism regained”. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(1): 48-76 http://jmmr.sagepub.com