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Qualitative research: resurgence, institutionalisation and application

Fielding, NG (2005) Qualitative research: resurgence, institutionalisation and application In: Qualitative research: resurgence, institutionalisation and application. University of Surrey, Paris. (Unpublished)

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The way that the social sciences developed in respect of methodological preferences, and differences between European and North American approaches, helps us to understand why secondary analysis has until recently been a limited practice in qualitative research. To unravel the developments that explain the differing circumstances of secondary analysis in quantitative and qualitative research, we will initially consider the early days of qualitative method, and comment on its location in the foundational social science curriculum, represented by the Chicago School, a key centre of social science during the early twentieth century. As the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago matured, it established a long rivalry with departments of sociology in universities on the Eastern seaboard of the US, and it began to change emphasis to more closely resemble the approach that was dominant in institutions such as Harvard and Columbia. Qualitative methodology became a methodology in retreat during the long years when structural/functionalism and quantitative analysis were dominant. Recent scholarship shows that Chicago=s methodological orientation long had a closer relation to mainstream sociology practices than is often suggested. The period when qualitative methodology was a core part of the Chicago methodological curriculum was relatively brief, and even then, these methods received little more emphasis than conventional statistical methods. Methodological trends generally take some considerable time to ripple out from their origin, though, and national communities of social scientists have their own distinct characteristics. For these reasons we will compare trends in European social science with those in North America during the period that qualitative methodology began its slow re-legitimation. The present period is one in which qualitative methodology has secured enhanced legitimation, but the position is not universal. Methods journals with generic titles, such as Sociological Methods and Research, still seldom publish anything but statistical work grounded in a positivist position, and as one moves away from the Western-centric academic circuit, the methodological picture is generally more conservative, as early US-influenced positivism has taken a long time to recede in countries whose academic system is modelled on the US and whose academics were largely trained in US graduate schools. But in North America and Western Europe, qualitative methodology has achieved a new measure of institutionalisation and it is increasingly applied in work not only within the academic sphere but in research supported by government and the business sector. Applications outside the academic sphere form a focus for the closing discussion, which considers the role of programme evaluation research in promoting qualitative methods, and the role of technology in making qualitative research more acceptable to research sponsors. Throughout the discussion, comment will be made on the implications for secondary analysis.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Sociology
Authors :
Fielding, NG
Date : 2005
Additional Information : This chapter was prepared as a result of a paper presented in November 2005 in a conference on "Secondary analysis of qualitative research" in Grenoble, Francia. Posted with permission of the author. Copyright Nigel Fielding, University of Surrey.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 05 Feb 2014 16:38
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 16:36

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