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(in the philosophy of science) a very general conception of the nature of scientific endeavour within which a given enquiry is undertaken
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


  1. any example or representative instance of a concept or a theoretical approach, e.g. MERTON's (1949) summary exemplifying discussion of the strengths and pitfalls of functional analysis in sociology. In some branches of philosophy a ‘paradigm case’ is seen as providing an ‘ostensive definition’ of a concept.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a system of the various inflectional forms of a word. A paradigm shows the way a word’s appearance is modified according to the grammatical categories inherent in a word. A noun, for example, has inflectional forms for gender, number, and case, and a verb for person, tense, and aspect. A paradigm is a pattern of change in a word, based on grammatical categories. It is an example of a declension or conjugation.

Since a paradigm is characterized by lexical identicalness of a stem, it is frequently represented as a table of endings that are to serve as a model for the inflection of a given part of speech or for the derivation of word forms (formoobrazovanie). A description of a paradigm takes into account the number of members in the set (a paradigm is a closed series of forms), the order in which the members are arranged, the endings of each member of the paradigm, and the possible morphophonemic transformations of the stem and/or endings. Any restricted system of secondary formations with a single base is often called a paradigm; such a paradigm may be morphological, lexical, derivational, or some other type. Linguists usually use the concept of syntactic paradigm to designate a system of forms of a sentence, as in syn uchitsia (“the son is studying”), syn uchilsia (“the son studied”), and so forth.

Paradigms may be either partial (or minor), consisting of groups of forms with a certain organization, or complete (major), comprising a complement of partial paradigms. In Russian, for example, the complete paradigm of adjectives includes three singular paradigms, one plural paradigm, one paradigm of short forms, and the forms for the degrees of comparison.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Pronounced "pah-ruh-dime." A model, example or pattern. See paradigm shift and metaphor.
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It first examines the importance of paradigms as basic ways of interpreting the relationship between politics and public administration, then details five paradigmatic views--public administration as a submissive instrument of politics and as an oout-sourceableo policy production system, the demand and supply paradigm, the modernist paradigm, and the post-modern paradigm--and their impact on theories and practices of public administration, as well as key problems and proposed solutions by each.