chapter  19
5 Pages

The Possible Restorative Justice Functions of Qualitative Research

WithJohn H. Stanfield

One of the major debates in research methodology circles is whether qualitative methods are "scientific enough" because of their focus on subjective human experiences. This preoccupation with appearing to be scientific enough stems from the dominance of Age of Enlightenment and even post-Enlightenment presumptions regarding the superiority of sciences as ways of knowing, understanding and predicting human experiences as well as the nature of physical environments. Thus, for generations, intellectuals in those areas of research that do not strictly adhere to the rules of the positivistic scientific method (e.g. operationalization, measurement, and devising and implementing principles of reliability and validity to induce objectivity) have been viewed with suspicion and indeed, in some cases, have not been viewed as scientists at all. It is therefore understandable that, in their quest for scientific respectability, qualitative researchers in the social sciences and those in the humanities friendly to qualitative methods spend a great deal of time—as do their more quantitatively oriented colleagues who believe in the alleged superior virtues of positivistic reasoning—trying to prove, as George Lunberg put it many years ago, that science can save us, can save all of us.