Two Dimensions: Four Paradigms
This chapter argues that it is possible to analyse different approaches in terms of two key dimensions of analysis, each of which subsumes a series of related themes. It discusses the relationships between the two dimensions and develops a coherent scheme for the analysis of social theory. Within the context of the ‘functionalist’ paradigm, for example, certain theorists adopt more extreme positions in terms of one or both of the two dimensions than others. The four paradigms taken together provide a map for negotiating the subject area, which offers a convenient means of identifying the basic similarities and differences between the work of various theorists and, in particular, the underlying frame of reference which they adopt. The four paradigms are the functionalist paradigm, the interpretive paradigm, the radical humanist paradigm, and the radical structuralist paradigm. The four paradigms define four views of the social world based upon different meta-theoretical assumptions with regard to the nature of science and of society.