3.1 Locating the Research Paradigm
The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding on how the students’ trailing partners manage their international relocations by developing a theoretical framework that describes the process. Hence, it is important to choose an appropriate research paradigm in order to accomplish this.
A research paradigm is the set of shared beliefs between researchers about how problems should be assumed and addressed. Walliman (2011) termed it as a ‘theoretical approach’, Schwandt (2007) identified it as a ‘type of cognitive framework’ while Corbin and Strauss (2008) referred to it as ‘an analytic strategy for integrating structure with process’. A research paradigm is constructed of three core elements: ontological, epistemological and methodological (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998; Guba & Lincoln, 1994).
3.1.1 Deciding on the ontology, epistemology and methodology
Ontology is how researchers construct reality by understanding the phenomenon being studied by inquiring “What can be said to exist?”, “What kind of being is the human being?” and “How things really work?” The two ontological assumptions are the realist and relativist (Willig, 2008). A realist ontology views that there are cause-effect relationships between structures and objects. In contrast, a relativist ontology believes that not everything is as organized or well-laid out as how the realists had hoped it to be. A relativist ontology queries the ‘out-there-ness’ of everything, accentuating the mixture of various interpretations. From a relativist position, there are multiple realities, instead of one reality, each created from the personal and social experiences of those involved (Creswell, 2009; Denzin & Lincoln, 1998; Guba, 1990).