This paper attempts to extend the boundaries of the paradigm debate by focusing on the textual construction of realities. In doing so, it is concerned to enhance the possibilities of critical dialogue within the research community so that understanding might prevail. Insights from poststructuralism are provided to illuminate the manner in which different paradigms utilize various discourses and rhetorics to persuade the reader of the legitimacy of their findings. It is suggested that researchers be encouraged to become active readers and engage in the criticism of texts so that their involvement in producing texts may be viewed as literary enterprises. The development of such a critical and reflective self-awareness regarding their own stylistic conventions and the manner in which these express specific taken-for-granted paradigmatic assumptions are taken to be vital first steps in opening up the possibilities for entertaining alternative views and exploring the intellectual landscape of others. The difficulties of this task are outlined in relation to the political economy of truth and the manner in which power operates to prevent polyvocality in the marketplace of ideas.
Andrew C. Sparkes is with the School of Education at the University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, England. EX1 2LU.