What's Lost in Translation? Neopositivism and Critical Research Interests

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Andrew Bennett ‘finds in translation’ potential communication between computer-assisted content analysis (which is usually quantitative and positivist) and discourse analysis (which he suggests is usually qualitative and post-positivist). Bennett is interested in combining these methods despite epistemological differences in the research purposes for which each method is usually deployed. There are a number of propositions made in “found in translation” with which I agree – including but not limited to the utility of both of methods understood as qualitative and methods understood as quantitative and the importance of thinking about the relationship between method and epistemology in complicated ways.
Still, my understanding of the possibility (and desirability) of ‘mixed method’ research as Bennett frames it is very different than Bennett’s. The core of our disagreement can be found in Bennett’s description in footnote 4 of his article of my work with Barkin. Bennett notes our work as an exception to the trend among scholars to neglect the potential contributions of research on ‘the other’ side of the quantitative/qualitative divide. While I hope that is true, the footnote suggests that our work discusses “opportunities for combining interpretive and quantitative methods.” That is not our intent – instead, we are looking for opportunities to use quantitative methods as interpretive research. That is, we are interested in showing the interpretive utility of methods traditionally understood to be quantitative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1010
Number of pages4
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • neopositivism
  • methodology
  • critical IR
  • research
  • epistemology
  • positivism
  • post-positivism

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