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Ontology

 

Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Ontology

Definition | Positivist ontology | Constructionist ontology | See also

 

Definition

Ontology is the study of being and existence in the world. Taking an ontological position is to understand how things are.

Positivist ontology

Positivists are arch-scientists and view the world as being real and existing independently from the human existence. The world is seen as an ordered, structured place that is governed by physical laws.

Studying the world from this position can be done objectively and without concern for how people create meaning.

Constructionist ontology

Constructionist ontologies view our perception of the world as being internally constructed. We thus individually and collectively create meaning from our experiences in a world where we can never know what is real.

All we can study is the semiotic world of signs and symbols, what people report about their inner worlds, and our guesses at what they may be experiencing from the external indicators they give.

See also

Schools of thought in Critical Theory, Personal Construct Theory, Hermeneutics

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