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Introduction to Frameworks, Models & Concepts

Introduction

Frameworks, Models, Concepts & Theories

The world’s body of knowledge has been built and is been growing by addition of several theories, models, frameworks and concepts. To a layman and also to young students, the differences between these are not known and to them these seem to be all of same. However, as we grow and embark upon higher orders of work either in academics or in professional applications, it is important to understand how theories, models, frameworks and concepts are not the same.

In any domain, the body of knowledge is established by several experiments done by various researchers and workers of that domain. These experiments were done by them to confirm or validate certain informed guesses that they had made observing certain patterns within the scope of their observation. These ‘informed guesses’ are called Hypothesis. A Hypothesis is a tentative educated informed guess described to explain an observation or a phenomenon or to satisfy a scientific curiosity and needs to be validated by further experimentation, investigation and repeat confirmatory observation. A Hypothesis on its own is an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of complete or semi-complete observations and needs a confirmatory test to be considered as a Valid Hypothesis. The confirmatory tests are Experiments which are done to validate a Hypothesis.

When after repeated experimentations a Hypothesis or a group of Hypothesis stands validated, the next stage is consolidation of the observed causative phenomenon accepted as a valid explanation. Thus, a Theory is the consolidated explanation based on observation, experimentation and reasoning accepted as a general principle that helps to explain the cause and results of the phenomenon. When we arrive at a theory, the guesses and speculations around the Hypothesis do not exist. A theory is based on rational investigation of the facts that has given repeated and consistent empirical results. A body of knowledge also grows by improvisations of the existing theories as more and more scientific information is collected upon by future workers and researchers on the existing theories.

Models are used to explain theories. A model is an abstract representation that is used to explain the application of a theory. Models could be physical, verbal, visual and even mathematical. Any form of representation used by the researcher or worker to explain the application of the theory in a structured step by step manner could be a Model. Models are also techniques of giving structure for the formulation of theories and serve as platforms of options in relation to the theory.

Frameworks are the specific lenses through which a researcher or practitioner looks at a problem. It is a bounded scope within which the researcher or the practitioner keeps the problem and explores further. For example, one can study Parent-Child Transactions in a Peer Group. In this case, the scope of studying Parent-Child Transactions is limited within the boundaries of the Peer Group and is seen only through the lens of ‘such relationships in Peer Groups’ and not beyond that. The idea is to view the phenomenon of interest more acutely to make thread bare distinction of conceptual ideas and organize them, within the scope of chosen boundaries. Frameworks are also aligned to certain principle paradigms. The framework of a qualitative research would be literature survey whereas the framework of quantitative research would be arriving at empirical results based on experimentation.

A Concept is a result of a mental process. Conceptualization thus is the cognitive process of understanding, establishing relativity, comparative evaluations, logical reasoning and developing judgment to consolidate an experience.

Concepts can easily be easily be understood by seeing it as a ‘category’ in our minds. In such a Category, we give Memberships based on Associations and similarity of associations. For example, in our minds a ‘book’ is a category. When we see an object that has got pages, which are bound in a particular way having a front cover and a back cover, we recognize that it is a ‘book’. We may see several shapes, sizes, and colors of books but even with this wide variety, we would still identify a book and call it a book and not mistake it as a writing pad. This is because in our mind we have a concept of a book. When one influences us to believe a writing pad to be a book, we disagree. Thus, a concept is formed in two ways – one, the classical way of identifying the properties and two, assigning memberships based on associated properties. Example of Concepts – Emotional Intelligence, Interpersonal Relationships, Electricity, Inflation.

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