Qualitative Research and the Challenges of Complexity

  • Antonio Dias de Figueiredo


Will the research agendas of this 21st century be able to handle with rigor the complexity and uncertainty of our world? Will they accommodate the leaps into the unknown of today’s creative and innovative processes? Should we care about it? Our answer is yes, because the social, economic, and political problems we confront today are becoming increasingly complex and nondeterministic. As this happens, and even their formulation becomes elusive, our traditional theories, methods, and instruments fail. We argue that the qualitative approaches inspired by the design disciplines are ideal to handle these situations, provided we carefully take into account some principles of the philosophy of science. We believe that the researchers willing to confront the growing complexity of our day, in all its richness and diversity, will have much advantage in following these approaches.