n Africa Insight - From positivism to indigenous science : a reflection on world views, paradigms and philosophical assumptions

Volume 41, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


For much of the 20th century, research approaches and procedures in social science were rooted in the positivist paradigm, which is concerned with investigating phenomena that are de-contextualised, observable and measured using objective methods within the quantitative approach. This restricts the possibility of gaining knowledge of what can be known using other research world views, paradigms and approaches that include constructivist, qualitative approach, participatory research paradigm and indigenous-based scientific methods. Knowledge through the positivist paradigm is, therefore, none other than the result of Western-based science that is associated with its ontological, epistemological, axiological, methodological and rhetorical assumptions. It is within this context that the author proposes a shift from positivism to an indigenous-based scientific approach for knowledge production aimed at addressing social and environmental challenges.

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