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Unit 6 Qualitative Research

1. Qualitative Research is concerned with:

Early forms of research originated in the natural sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, geology and wanted to observe and measure in some way in order to gain understanding. Quantitative research refers to observations and measurements that can be made objectively and repeated by other researchers. Along with the development of social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc, they were interested in studying human behaviour and the social world. The social sciences found it difficult to measure human behaviour in the simpler quantitative methods, therefore qualitative research methods were developed in order to look beyond how, how often and how many...it looks at why and attempts to further and deepen our understanding of the social world.

The theories introduced in unit one that take on a qualitative approach to research include:

  1. Phenomenology
  2. Ethnomethodology
  3. Grounded Theory
  4. Symbolic Interactionists
  5. Interpretivists
  6. Critical Social Science
  7. Feminists

Qualitative research methods:

  1. are concerned with opinions, feelings and experiences
  2. describes social phenomena as they occur naturally - no attempt is made to manipulate the situation - just understand and describe
  3. understanding is sought by taking a holistic perspective / approach, rather than looking at a set of variables
  4. qualitative research data is used to help us to develop concepts and theories that help us to understand the social world - which is an inductive approach to the development of theory, rather than a deductive approach that quantitative research takes - ie. Testing theories that have already been proposed.
  5. Qualitative data is collected through direct encounters i.e. through interview or observation and is rather time consuming

http://www.aqr.org.uk/about/index.shtml is the official site for the Association of Qualitative Research, UK.