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scientific paradigma universally recognized scientific achievement that for a time provides model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners’ (KUHN, 1962). Kuhn has been criticized for using the term in a variety of senses (e.g. to refer to groups, FORMS OF LIFE, etc.). It is clear, however, that Kuhn's main reason for introducing the term was to draw attention to the fact that science is a ‘flesh and blood’ phenomenon and that the character and the achievements of science cannot be adequately understood as reducible to abstract theories (see also NORMAL AND REVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE). Once this is seen, the ‘looseness’ of the concept can be justified as reflecting a looseness in the subject matter.
While scientific paradigms are seen by Kuhn as a sign of the maturity of a scientific discipline and the social sciences viewed by him as ‘preparadigmatic’, it is also possible to talk of ‘paradigms’ in the social sciences, with the social sciences seen as ‘multiparadigmatic’ in a way that reflects the inherent difficulties and divergent interpretations of the subject matter.