1. (noun) A framework, model, or pattern used to formulate generalizations and theories based on shared assumptions, concepts, questions, methods, practices, and values that structure inquiry.

2. (noun) A widely accepted view.

Audio Pronunciation: (par·a·digm)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: paradigms
  • Paradigms shape how something is seen and how it is understood; however a paradigm should not be confused with a theory, which is an attempt to provide an explanation for something.
  • In choosing a paradigm for their research all researchers must account for personal bias.
  • Sociologists use numerous paradigms to study and understand society.
  • Paradigmaticism refers to a strong allegiance to a paradigm.
  • Thomas Kuhn (1922–1996) wrote about the history of science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and popularized the idea of paradigms in the social sciences. Kuhn contended that science was influenced and shaped by social systems and that progress in scientific knowledge occurs through shifts from one paradigm to another. Kuhn theorized that paradigms remained unchallenged until enough unexplained anomalies occur that a new paradigm was developed to explain them more effectively. Kuhn developed the idea of normal science to describe scientific work completed during stable paradigm period and a paradigm shift to describe the rapid and revolutionary change from one paradigm to another such as the movement from geocentrism to heliocentrism during the Copernican revolution.
  • Also called theoretical perspective.
  • Sociologists (verb) paradigmatize (adjective) paradigmatic ideas (adverb) paradigmatically.

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