In high school, I studied the theory of knowledge. The main point of this class was to answer the question – “how do we know what we know?” Throughout, we learned that the ways of knowing can be divided into two main categories. One is ontological, like sense perception, emotion, faith and intuition. Ontology determines how researchers look at and perceive the world – a framework for how researchers ascertain the events and the patterns that they are researching. As Andrew Abbott posits, “social science aims to explain social life.” Researchers can use ontological frames to analyse the things they perceive to be true and to make sense of the things they believe to be fact. This relates directly to the sine qua nonof interpretive research Schwartz-Shea and Yanow present in their work: “(interpretive research) seeks knowledge about how human beings, scholars included, make individual and collective sense of their particular worlds.” Another category is methodological ways, like reason, memory and language. Methodology determines how researchers can carry out their research, mainly the methods they can use to conduct data collection. It allows researchers to make more systematised conclusions about the world around them through means like surveys or structured interviews.
Since there are so many ways of knowing, it is not difficult to conduct research and to make knowledge claims about the same. However, this brings us to a new question – what really can be stratifiedas knowledge? There is no real obvious answer about what knowledge is. It can be argued that we know these things through the observation of people, things and events happening in our environment, but it can also be argued that the knowledge we have is a product of the programming and opinions passed down intergenerationally. I am of the view that the knowledge we hold is the product of a combination of factors. It is undoubtedly the ideas and things we can see materially but also the beliefs, opinions and feelings we can experience in a more abstract way. There is no all-encompassing definition of knowledge because it is itself an extremely broad concept and is heavily subjective, depending on a person’s interpretation of the world around them.
On that note, as a researcher, I do not believe that anyone can ever truly be an objective observer of the world they live in. Even the most rational of people are often affected by their biases or preconceived notions. Therefore, while we can try as much as possible to be aware of these prejudices, it is also important to note that we can never truly suspend them. Due to this, I believe that we are always contributing to the world of knowledge that we prescribe to. We tend to create work that is similar to that of people who share our worldview. This does often lead to the creation of biased work, but this is not necessarily a negative thing – it aids in providing more holistic views of the things we study and research, which deepens our understanding of the same.
 Abbott, Andrew Delano. Methods of Discovery: Heuristics For The Social Sciences. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
 Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine, and Dvora Yanow. Interpretive Research Design: Concepts And Processes. New York, N.Y.: Routledge, 2012.