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A Path Toward Methodological Pluralism: Revisiting the Paradigm Conflicts of the 1980s through Today

  • Chad West
Chapter
Part of the Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education book series (LAAE, volume 23)

Abstract

At the heart of the paradigm conflict between positivists and interpretivists are the different ways each group views subjectivity and objectivity in the research process; positivists view subjectivity as a contamination to research, whereas interpretivists view objectivity as unattainable. This essay first revisits the so-called paradigm wars between positivists and interpretivists throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century that have shaped and continue to shape educational research in general and American music education research in particular. To provide but one slim point of reference for which readers might anchor the discussion and contextualize their thoughts, I offer an analysis of the trajectory of methodological pluralism within the Journal of Research in Music Education. Then, using Gage’s (Gage, N. L. Educ Res, 18(7), 4–10 (1989)) predictions as a framework, I make the argument that the paradigm wars—which began with the rise of interpretivism in the 1980s with the incompatibility thesis, followed by a ceasefire in the 1990s with the complementary strengths thesis—are unfortunately still being waged today as the educational research community’s hard fought gains toward pluralism are now being tested by those outside the profession. Finally, I argue that while instances of methodological pluralism are relatively rare among American music education researchers, the field of American music education research as a whole has become more methodologically pluralistic since the 1970s and contend that our new charge is not be to become more methodologically plural as a profession, but to convince those outside the profession that methodological pluralism is a good thing.

Keywords

Pluralism Subjectivity Objectivity Positivism Interpretivism Paradigm wars Science wars Mixed methods Qualitative Quantitative 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Music Education, James J. Whalen Center for MusicIthaca CollegeIthacaUSA

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