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What is Qualitative in Qualitative Research
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Seminar for Sociology, Universität St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland. (ULES Uppsala Laboratory of Economic Sociology)
Department of Media and Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway.
2019 (English)In: Qualitative Sociology, ISSN 0162-0436, E-ISSN 1573-7837, Vol. 42, no 2, p. 139-160Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

What is qualitative research? If we look for a precise definition of qualitative research, and specifically for one that addresses its distinctive feature of being “qualitative,” the literature is meager. In this article we systematically search, identify and analyze a sample of 89 sources using or attempting to define the term “qualitative.” Then, drawing on ideas we find scattered across existing work, and based on Becker’s classic study of marijuana consumption, we formulate and illustrate a definition that tries to capture its core elements. We define qualitative research as an iterative process in which improved understanding to the scientific community is achieved by making new significant distinctions resulting from getting closer to the phenomenon studied. This formulation is developed as a tool to help improve research designs while stressing that a qualitative dimension is present in quantitative work as well. Additionally, it can facilitate teaching, communication between researchers, diminish the gap between qualitative and quantitative researchers, help to address critiques of qualitative methods, and be used as a standard of evaluation of qualitative research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 42, no 2, p. 139-160
Keywords [en]
Qualitative Methods
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-378402DOI: 10.1007/s11133-019-9413-7ISI: 000466563300001PubMedID: 31105362OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-378402DiVA, id: diva2:1293903
Funder
EU, European Research Council, CEV 263699Available from: 2019-03-05 Created: 2019-03-05 Last updated: 2019-06-10Bibliographically approved

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