6. 6.1 Research design and methods INTRODUCTION TO THE CHAPTER This chapter presents the research design based on ‘naturalistic inquiry’ and an overview of social constructionist paradigmatic assumptions, research questions, associated methods of data collection and analysis, and criteria applied for establishing trustworthiness of this qualitative study. Defining research as a collaborative experience between the parties involved (the researcher, participants and users of research), the notion of reflexivity is crucial and is elaborated further in this chapter. Reflexivity calls for self-awareness of the reflexive screens that actors (researcher, participants and readers) have in a research act and that of the implications on constructing the research text. Reflexive screens are formed by a researcher’s background, world-view and the scientific position taken. 6.2 SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONIST PARADIGM LEADING TO RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The world can be understood only through human experience that is historically and culturally embedded (K.J. Gergen, 1985, 1994; Burr, 1995; Chell, 2008; Chell and Pittaway, 1998a). Revisiting the social constructionist assumptions as laid out in the previous chapter, knowledge and understanding of human experience are contextual and generated and sustained through social processes. K.J. Gergen (2001) asserts that social constructionism allows researchers to ‘explore alternative understandings of “what is the case” and to locate meanings that enable us to go on in more adequate ways’. With a concern for holistic and detailed understandings of social processes embedded in certain settings, and a commitment to participants’ interpretation of their experiences, we have adopted naturalistic inquiry as the overarching research design...
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