2003, Number 6
Salud Mental 2003; 26 (6)
Veinticinco años de investigación cualitativa en Salud Mental y Adicciones con poblaciones ocultas. Primera Parte
Romero M, Rodríguez EM, Durand-Smith A, Aguilera RM
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ABSTRACTScientific research is not a neutral task. The existence of several paradigms and, as a consequence, different methodological approaches to study social reality, is an evidence of this statement. According to Ibañez, the couple quantitative-qualitative is the most polemic one. There are not only different types of techniques, but the main difference lays in the paradigms that each one responds to.
According to Guba and Lincoln, paradigms can be seen as a group of basic beliefs related to last principles. They represent a vision of the world that defines, for those who use them, the nature of the world, the place of the individual in it, and the range of possibilities between them. Each paradigm answers three closely related questions: 1. A definition of the form and nature of reality; 2. A definition of the kind of relation established between the scientific who knows and the reality that is known, and 3. A definition of the specific methods that can be used to know that reality.
According to Castro, for the qualitative approach what matters is observing, listening, and comprehending, so the level of reality that is known is a subjective one. The actors are the ones who create the social order through interaction and not the other way around. This approach favors comprehension rather than explanations, and the analysis of the subjects and individuals is carried out at a micro-level. Because of that, this interpretative approach is the one used to develop inductive knowledge, assuming that the meanings obtained are diverse.
This kind of descriptive, analytic, and explorative approach is the best way to study hidden populations.