Resistance to Qual/Quant Parity: Why the “Paradigm” Discussion Can’t Be Avoided

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Despite making impressive gains in recent years, qualitative research still faces strong resistance from many, especially within mainstream psychology in the United States. I argue that this resistance stems, in part, from continuing widespread misunderstandings about the nature of qualitative methods, and, more specifically, about the relationship between the paradigms that govern quantitative and qualitative research. Some have argued for a strong separation between these paradigms, whereas others have minimized their separation or questioned the usefulness of the paradigm concept altogether. In this article I argue for the importance of the paradigm concept. I trace the history of this concept and some of the complex philosophical and definitional issues underlying it, and I argue that quantitative and qualitative research methodologies are defined, respectively, by governing paradigms that can be said to be truly separate in certain crucial respects. I conclude that a deeper understanding of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms, and of the distinct and unique kinds of knowledge each generates, supports the parity of these 2 research methodologies and clarifies some of the challenges of combining them in mixed methods designs.

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