PARADIGM

‘Paradigm’ is set of accepted fundamental laws, assumptions, and standard ways of working (instrumentation and techniques).

A new and original social paradigm is recognizable only if it accedes to the world stage of the global scientific system constituted and structured by networks of scientific scholars, scientific contributions published in scientific journals, books, internet sites, etc., fueled by a vast array of international meetings, seminars, conferences, and so on. It is only at this global level that we can decide if a new paradigm is gaining a global stage or not. Put in other words: are we really witnessing a new and emergent sociological ‘school’, or are we observing only a sort of ‘esprit du temp’ which is able to catalyse similar intuitions and sociological insights? (As in Prandini, R. Relational sociology: A well-defined sociological paradigm or a challenging ‘relational turn’ in sociology? International Review of Sociology: Revue Internationale de Sociologie, 25(1), 2015, 1–14.)

paradigm

The term ‘Paradigm’ was first used by Thomas S. Kuhn in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (First Published in 1962). Manny Rayner (a famous and popular Goodreads Author) on 24 January 2013, reviewing the 50th anniversary edition of the book wrote:

Scientists are so passionate about their work, and even if you’re a scientist yourself it can sometimes take you by surprise to see just how passionate they are. A few years ago, when I was working at NASA, we made up a game called If Research Were Romance. Here, let me show you how to play.

Kuhn

In real life, Thomas Kuhn wrote a book about paradigm changes in science. But if research were romance, he might have written a book about relationships instead. It might have been quite similar in many ways. Scientists care so much about their theories that you won’t go far wrong if you think about the feelings they have for those theories as being similar to the feelings that normal people have for their significant others.

If research were romance, Thomas Kuhn might have said that, when you’re in a committed relationship, that relationship colors all your life. A lot of what you do and think only makes sense in terms of the relationship. And everyone over, say, 20, knows that relationships are not always easy. You’re continually having problems, some of them little, some of them not so little. But if you’re prepared to work on them, you can usually solve those problems, and when you’ve done so you usually feel that the relationship is stronger, not weaker. The fact that you’ve surmounted the problem gives you more faith in the relationship.

If research were romance, Thomas Kuhn might have gone on to say that sometimes you get another feeling. The problems won’t disappear, or they go away in one form and immediately return in another. You start to feel that the relationship is undergoing a real crisis. But you’ll probably still continue to work on it, unless you meet another person who offers you a chance of something different. If you’ve been in your relationship a long time, it will feel difficult to consider seriously the idea of abandoning it and starting a new one. Sometimes, though, people do this. They won’t really know why they’re taking this drastic step, and they won’t be able to justify it clearly in their minds. It will just seem like the right thing to do.

If research were romance, Thomas Kuhn might have added that, after the old relationship has ended and the new one has started, it will be hard to see your old life in the same terms. Your view of it will now be colored by your new relationship. Now, you will probably only be able to see the old relationship as containing faults which you never noticed at the time. You will not really be able to remember what it was like.

If research were romance, Thomas Kuhn might have said that some people believe that they have a true soulmate out there, and it’s just a question of finding that special person they are fated to be with. But he wouldn’t have believed that. He’d have said that people sometimes change their partner, and often they may do it for a good reason. But there is no absolute sense in which the new partner is better suited to them than the old one. They are better in some ways and worse in others.

If research were romance, Thomas Kuhn would have been a rock star. Security staff would have been needed to stop groupies getting into his hotel room and he’d have been unsure about how many children he’d fathered. He’d have played it down in interviews, but everyone would have known what the deal was.

If you also work in science, I encourage you to experiment with this game. You’ll be amazed how much insight it gives you into what’s really going on.

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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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