Here is a brief background on paradigm starting with Kuhn's version that is strictly limited to the scientific context to the word being applied in a more general way.
The word paradigm came into public consciousness from Thomas Kuhn in his Structures of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. Here paradigm refers to at a given point of time in history the scientific community accepted 'disciplinary matrix' of measurement methods, ontological assumptions and theories which together solve a specific scientific puzzle.
Some interesting features of Kuhn's view are:
Objectively comparing paradigm can be difficult because the measurement method are inherently tied to the theories and ontological assumptions of the paradigm. This is the incommensurate property. For example a western medicine practitioner with patient A may see a totally different set of illness symptoms compared to say an eastern medicine practitioner.
A good paradigm will identify new puzzles where the tools within the paradigm can then solve these new problems. This is what Kuhn calls the period of normal science. There will be some problems that are not solved and then set aside or become the subject of 'fringe science'.
Revolutionary Science when a new paradigm replaces the previous paradigm, the co called Paradigm Shift , where there is a revision in some fundamental aspect of disciplinary matrix which enables solving some puzzles that the previous puzzle was unable to solve. Classic examples are Newtons Mechanics and Einsteins theory of relativity. Typically there is a a great imaginative step and change in perception that is needed for this new paradigm to be invented, whether its imagining the rate at which an apple accelerates when falling or imagining what a frame of reference is for a travelling photon.
Interestingly, Kuhn thought the word paradigm can only apply to science and not to the social sciences, since there is intellectual cohesion in science and not so much in the social sciences which is fragmented by so many approaches.
Many commentators, which I would agree with, have stated that Kuhn's Scientific paradigms seems to point to general psychological truth in the way of knowing that can apply to other areas of knowledge where we operate under powerful explanatory framework.
One sign that we may be operating under a paradigm is that we cannot imagine a different explanatory framework for a given a situation.
For the discussion we may wish to consider these questions.
1) What is your personal definition what the word paradigm means ? -Is it legitimate to take paradigm outside the science context. -What are examples
My own view: A paradigm is short hand for a powerful explanatory framework which colours our perception of the world and we often invoke to explain things. There needs to be sufficient consensus for it have the force of being a paradigm. Sure it can applied outside of science.
Current popular paradigms are 'evolutionary theory' which is applied to all manner of things which one may question the validity of, like evolutionary advantage of some cultural attribute or 'memes' for example, that are way beyond the original context.
Other areas of obvious paradigms are in different schools of economic thought like Keynes or Milton Freedman which can take on a religious fervour for some economist and politicians. There appears to be a lot of rigidity in how these view are held by some.
Another is Religion which can provide moral paradigms .....
2) How is non scientific paradigm different from ideology ?
3)What are examples of 'opaque paradigm' ? These are paradigms one operates under but is not conscious of .