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date: 09 December 2022

Qualitative Research at the Policy Tablelocked

Qualitative Research at the Policy Tablelocked

  • Wanda S. PillowWanda S. PillowUniversity of Utah


The “paradigm wars” of the 1970s−1990s fostered intense debate about the meanings and purposes of research and policy. Paradigmatic stances seemed to keep these two fields separate—at odds with each other methodologically and theoretically. Tracing this history yields knowledge about past and potential relationships between qualitative research and policy studies. Given qualitative research studies, social phenomena, and policy that reflects social values, it seems obvious that policy studies need qualitative research in order to understand policy processes, from development to implementation and practice, and that qualitative research would benefit from examining, analyzing, and contributing to a policy process. But who is responsible for this work? Are post-paradigm war relations possible and, if so, what may such relations look like? A review of the paradigmatic trajectories of each field allows a closer look at what qualitative and policy relationships look like when specifically thought through a focus on how theory shapes what we think of as research and policy. Whatever purposeful relationships are formed, rethinking dogmatic post-paradigm war logic is necessary to envision new questions that may drive research and policy futures.


  • Educational Politics and Policy

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