A consideration of ontology and epistemology is necessary to ensure the

A consideration of ontology and epistemology is

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analysing and interpreting data. A consideration of ontology and epistemology is necessary to ensure the soundness of the research project (Blaikie 2010). The importance of these considerations is to ensure the compatibility of the different elements of the research design. Ontological and epistemological issues often arise together without being explicitly differentiated (Crotty 2003). This thesis also addresses ontology and epistemology simultaneously. As noted in chapter 4, the theoretical framework in this thesis takes a primarily social constructionist approach. Social constructionists: “reject claims of empiricism : namely, that the use of the human senses can produce a certain or true representation of an external world. [Instead they argue that] it is impossible to make true discoveries about the world. There can be no theory free observation or knowledge.” (Blaikie 2010, p 23) Crotty distinguishes between social constructivism and constructionism. Based on Schwandt’s (1994) analysis, Crotty (2003, p. 58) argues that constructivism focuses on “the meaning - making activity of the individual’s mind”, where any individual’s way of making sense is valid, thereby limiting critical investigation. In contrast, social constructionism includes “the collective generation [and transmission] of meaning” and emphasises the influence that institutional elements have on individuals and allows for critical reflection by agents. It assumes that social reality is a structure of ideas which are “the product of the intersubjective, meaning -giving activity of human beings in their everyday lives” in contrast to rationalists’ ass umptions that ideas are the product of “the universal innate structures of mind” (Blaikie 2010, p. 23). Burr (2003, pp. 3-5) argues that there is no single definition of social constructionism. She identifies a number of key assumptions that are common to social constructionist approaches. First,
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119 social constructionism demands a critical stance toward taken-for-granted knowledge and opposes positivism or empiricism, which assumes that the world can be revealed through observation. Second, social constructionism assumes historical and cultural specificity. An understanding of the world depends on the cultural and historical (or institutional) background of the individual or group trying to make sense. Third, social constructionism assumes that knowledge is sustained by social processes. The knowledge of the world is not derived from the nature of the world, but is constructed by and between individuals (Burr 2003, p. 5). Last, it assumes that knowledge and social action go together. “Each different so cial construction brings with it, or invites, a different kind of action from human beings” (Burr 2003, p. 5). This ontological and epistemological perspective is implicit in the discursive agenda setting framework (DASF). The research questions also reflect this perspective. For example, research question 2 “How the idea of GAAP/GFS harmonisation developed to gain agenda entrance at the FRC?”, reflects the theoretical assumption and
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  • Government, The Land, International Financial Reporting Standards, Financial Accounting Standards Board, Australian Accounting Standards Board, Snow

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