Out of Touch: Comparing and Contrasting Positivism and Interpretivism in Social Science

  • Maryam Ikram University of Malaya
  • Husaina Banu Kenayathulla University of Malaya


This concept paper aims to explain two paradigms positivism, and interpretivism also provides a comparison and contrast between two research philosophies. This paper introduced an in-depth explanation of positivism and interpretivism ontological and epistemological assumptions and the methodologies as well as the purpose, reality, variables, and data of both philosophies. This paper elaborated how the positivists' test theory and prove hypothesis for objective reality with defined variables by looking from the outside with data provided in numbers. Likewise, content analysis is used to analyze and comprehend the aims of philosophical frameworks. Furthermore, it explained how the interpretivists construct meaning for the social constructions reality with undefined variables by looking from inside with data provided in words. The research findings revealed some similarities between these two philosophies, such as both philosophies have general assumptions to investigate the nature of society, epistemological assumptions frequently arise from ontological assumptions, and both philosophies' research results are presented in detail, showing the research organization and implementation. There were also some significant differences between them, such as their definitions of reality, perspectives on knowledge, and data gathering methodologies. Furthermore, by evaluating books and articles on these two research philosophies, the results also indicated some implications.

Author Biography

Husaina Banu Kenayathulla, University of Malaya


Deputy Dean Research

Faculty of Education

Universiti Malaya


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How to Cite
IKRAM, Maryam; KENAYATHULLA, Husaina Banu. Out of Touch: Comparing and Contrasting Positivism and Interpretivism in Social Science. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, [S.l.], v. 4, n. 2, p. 39-49, june 2022. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/ajress/article/view/17935>. Date accessed: 26 sep. 2022.