Definitions

Qualitative research can be defined first in a simple, but quite loose, way. It is the interpretative study of a specified issue or problem in which the researcher is central to the sense that is made. A researcher's selected domain of interest here will be a particular aspect of action and experience, but it could just as well be a reflexive study of part of the discipline of psychology itself. With regard to the first of these types of domain, it is important to differentiate the language of...

Models of interviewing

Broadly speaking, four approaches inform interviewing practice ethnographic, 'new paradigm', feminist and postmodernist. While these approaches can overlap and combine, each has its own language and way of conceiving the research process and relationship. So while they have much in common with each other, it is worth identifying a few contrasts or points of tension within interviewing style and interpretation here. In all approaches, however, reflexivity is accorded a key role, in the sense of...

Erica Burman I

Conducting interviews is a complex, labour-intensive and uncertain business, fraught with tricky issues that social scientific researchers, and particularly psychologists, are often ill-equipped to address. This is because the emphasis on detachment and the distance structured between researcher and researched within most psychological theory and research instruments is rudely challenged by the face-to-face research interview. However much this is warded off by professional and personal...

References

Managing Mothers Dual Earner Households after Maternity Leave. London Unwin Hyman. British Psychological Society (1993). 'Revised ethical principles for conducting research with human participants'. The Psychologist, 6, 33-5. British Sociological Association (1982). Statement of Ethical Principles. London British Sociological Association. Callaway, H. (1981). 'Women's perspectives research as revision', in P. Reason and J. Rowan (eds) Human Inquiry a Sourcebook...

Ian Parker I

Qualitative methods have emerged in psychology only fairly recently as an array of alternative approaches to those in the mainstream, and it is difficult to define, explain or illustrate qualitative research without counterposing it to those methods in psychology which rest upon quantification, methods that have determined the shape of the discipline so far. However, it is not necessary to set quantitative and qualitative traditions in diametric opposition to one another, and we would lose...

Background

There are four main reasons for conducting interviews. First, uniting the many models of interviewing is a concern with subjective meanings (the meanings the participants accord to the topic of the interview) rather than with eliciting responses within a standard format for comparison with other individuals or groups. Second, interviews can permit exploration of issues that may be too complex to investigate through quantitative means. That is, given the lat-ter's aim to simplify phenomena, they...

The repression and return of meaning in positivist research

The 'crisis' in psychology at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s was an expression of an awareness of the impossibility of dealing with interpretation by attempting to suppress it (Parker 1989). The old way of doing things was characterized, using terminology from the philosophy of science, as an 'old paradigm'. The logic of the crisis was that rhe old set of assumptions and practices which held the scientific community together and set it certain types of puzzles to solve would...

Reflexivity

Reflexivity is perhaps the most distinctive feature of qualitative research. It is an attempt to make explicit the process by which the material and analysis are produced. It is a concept integral to personal construct psychology (see Chapter 5) and feminist research (see Chapter 8), in which both the researcher and researched are seen as collaborators in the construction of knowledge. Both can be explained using the same framework. According to Wilkinson (1988 493), 'at its simplest, however,...

Carol Tindall

The balance of this chapter varies slightly from the others as I intend to look at a range of personal construct approaches. Most attention will be given to the repertory grid, as this is most commonly dealt with quantitatively and often with scant regard for its theoretical background, in a somewhat free-floating fashion. My worked example of a repertory grid with laddering is immediately followed by the associated discussion and reflexive account. I then turn to other personal construct...

Maye Taylor

This chapter will at first concern itself with a general view of action research as, simply, 'a way of trying out changes and seeing what happens', and put forward the view that this has particular appeal to researchers motivated by a philosophy of social change such as feminism, anti-racism or socialism. It involves abandoning the idea that there must be a strict separation between science, research and action. Action research can be seen to have evolved from the work of Kurt Lewin in the...

Psychology and social change

Inevitably, the question needs to be asked as to what use research is here, we could get tied up in interminable arguments about 'pure' versus 'applied' research. This distinction, however, is rather an artificial one, as all research will have some implications (even if one is not aware of it at the time). In terms of our own values, we would prefer to see research as having outcomes that directly relate to the 'real world', but this is not to decry other forms of research. The insights gained...

Triangulation

Triangulation is essentially the use of different vantage points and takes a variety of forms, which I discuss and illustrate below. Triangulation allows illumination from multiple standpoints, reflecting a commitment to thoroughness, flexibility and differences of experience. Traditionally there has often been reliance on one method of data collection and analysis. We need to recognize that all researchers, perspectives and methods are value laden, biased, limited as well as illuminated by...

Peter Banister

In this chapter, we turn to what is probably the most basic and oldest method in the whole of psychology, one which in some way or other is involved in every other method used by the discipline. Observation is a process we all are continuously engaged in, and in the eyes of the public, psychologists are notorious for spending their time watching (not to mention analysing) other people. Even when we are not working as psychologists, we are always forming hypotheses, making inferences and trying...

The creativity cycle

The initial process of decision making and connection between the researcher and research topic is often (traditionally) overlooked. However, from the outset qualitative researchers recognize that they are subjectively and centrally engaged with the choice of research topic and the particular questions asked. I try to explain how I came up with the questions I did and how they changed as I went along. It would be impossible to present these questions fully without talking about myself the point...

Maye Taylor J

Ethnography is, perhaps, the original and quintessential qualitative research method hence its inclusion here in a book on applied qualitative research methods. It has its roots in anthropology and sociology and in recent years has become a model for research in social psychology and a key source of new paradigm research. Many of the principles embodied in ethnography have become key to the broader movement of qualitative research. In short, ethnography is a basic form of social research...

Introduction

Qualitative research recognizes a complex and dynamic social world. It involves researchers active engagement with participants and acknowledges that understanding is constructed and that multiple realities exist. This can illustrate the circular relation between method and theory, that is, how method has an effect on the production of knowledge and vice versa. Because participants gave me complex, dynamic, multiple and contradictory accounts of themselves and their experience, it was possible...

Discourse Analysis

In this chapter we are concerned with a form of analysis that addresses the ways in which language is so structured as to produce sets of meanings, discourses, that operate independently of the intentions of speakers, or writers. Discourse analysis treats the social world as a text, or rather as a system of texts which can be systematically 'read' by a researcher to lay open the psychological processes that lie within them, processes that the discipline of psychology usually attributes to a...