Pragmatic is the study of human language and how it is used in social interactions. Linguists who specialize in pragmatics focus on meaning and interpreting language, as opposed to phonetic or grammatical analysis.
Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that claims that an ideology or proposition is true only when it works, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in its practical consequences, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected. It is rooted in linguistics and philosophy, but has broad influences in law, education, politics, sociology, and psychology.
The main pragmatist figures include C.I. Lewis (1883-1964) and Sidney Hook (1902-1989).
During the nineteenth century, pragmatism gained momentum with influential American philosophers such as John Dewey, who had a major impact on American intellectual life. But pragmatism began to lose its importance in the twentieth century with the rise of rigorous, analytic philosophy.
Classical pragmatism developed from a philosophical perspective and is characterized by its emphasis on activity and its relation to experience. It is based on the view that every experience is educative, and all education, in Foster’s words, is an ongoing, continuous process of learning through a reorganization or reconstruction of experiences.
By placing the nature of practice at the centre of inquiry, classical pragmatism offers a research paradigm that can support both theoreticians and practitioners in their understanding of complex organizational processes. It enables researchers to develop an iterative focus on actionable knowledge that connects their inquiry to respondent experience and orients their research towards problem solving.
A key feature of pragmatism is its focus on the use of methods that make room for plurality and the interests and agendas of diverse respondents. This is a significant advantage for a methodological approach such as pragmatism, which emphasizes the need to adopt multiple methods and methodologies in a single project (Feilzer, 2010; Morgan, 2014a; Teddlie and Tashakkori, 2003).
Its emphasis on actionable knowledge also makes it easier for researchers to select methods that can accommodate emergent research questions and problems. It also enables researchers to create research agendas that are grounded in respondent experience and make it more likely that the findings of their research will be applicable to real-world situations.
Moreover, it is a methodological approach that can facilitate the development of a research strategy adapted to the needs of specific projects, and the development of an iterative methodology that enables the continued integration of data as it evolves and as new insights are identified. This principle can be applied to both qualitative and quantitative research (Feilzer, 2010; Morgan, 2007; Lorino et al., 2010).
Pragmatic methods have been criticized for their lack of a clear logic that determines what knowledge is legitimate and useful (Hesse-Biber, 2015; Denzin, 2010; Teddlie and Tashakkori, 2010); however, it is important to note that there are a number of methodological principles that enable researchers to use a pragmatic approach in their work. These include: