David Marsh and Paul Furlong wrote a paper discussing the skin, not the sweater in relation to ontology and epistemology in political science. The thrust of the concept is that you research and write in the ontological and epistemological space where you are as a person. If you’re a scientist, based on facts and realities chances are your a positivist. If you’re into the social construction of meaning then maybe you’re a critical theorist. I used to believe this but the more I play with the ideas of research approach, design, concept, the more I think, you know what, it really doesn’t matter.
Now for those of you in the know, you may say I’m a pragmatist in my paradigm. I don’t care what approach I take so long as I can find an answer to my question. The issue is, I don’t know that there is an answer. The research I’m doing, may end up of 80 000 words saying, “This is really hard and we all need to think more about it”. That’s not an answer. It’s, well, maybe, a cop out. And I do care about my approach. I am not a positivist. There is no objective reality. And I’m not a pragmatist because there are approaches that I think won’t work and as such I will need a research design that is aware of my ontology and epistemology. What I am though, is not comfortable in my skin, and I think that will actually work.
I don’t agree with Marsh and Furlong. I think we need the sweater, but we need to be aware that we are wearing one. We also need to think about changing it for the summer. After all, we don’t want to overheat.