Political Inquiry

Utility of Political Inquiry Models: Scientific vs. Interpretive

Scientific methods of inquiry, also called empirical, positivist, or rational approaches, are used by the vast majority of researchers in the social sciences (deLeon, 1998). The scientific approach has largely relied on a behaviorist approach, which defines human behavior as following the laws of nature and therefore inherently predicable. The logical conclusion from this is that the goal of political research is being able to predict the behavior of humans as they engage in politics. As Douglas Torgerson stated in 1986, "… knowledge would replace politics" (as cited by deLeon, 1998, p. 148).

In contrast, the interpretive school of political inquiry advocates for a more nuanced approach, one that recognizes that human behavior, whether by individuals or groups, is far too complex to render it reducible to quantitative measures (deLeon, 1998). Rather than having a goal of being able to...
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