Tackling problems of qualitative social research: A conversation

Article


Ruppel, Paul Sebastian, Dege, Martin, Andrews, M. and Squire, Corinne 2007. Tackling problems of qualitative social research: A conversation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. 9 (1).
AuthorsRuppel, Paul Sebastian, Dege, Martin, Andrews, M. and Squire, Corinne
Abstract

This paper comprises discussions from a residential symposium, "Methods in Dialogue", that took place near Cambridge, UK, in May 2005. The symposium concluded a series of seminars organised by the London East Research Institute and the Centre for Narrative Research at the University of East London and supported by the Economic and Social Research Council. Public support for social research increasingly depends on its ability to deliver scientifically valid and reliable studies to guide policy and practice. The theoretical foundations of social research, however, seem to be in a critical state. Evidence generated by both qualitative and quantitative methods is more and more seen to be conflicting, open to many interpretations. The aim of the event was to bring together qualitative researchers in the social sciences, many working in the field of narrative but also a number working with life history and auto/biography, discourse analysis, grounded theory methodology, visual methods and ethnography, to discuss the theoretical foundations of qualitative social research. The discussions addressed narrative itself as an index case for methodological debate; methodological considerations of objectivity and evidence, interpretation and context; appropriate levels of research focus and their interactions; the role of dialogue between disciplines; and the interaction between social science and the wider environment of which it is a part. Questions such as the following were discussed throughout the symposium: Who and what is social research for, and whose voices does it represent? What are social researchers' and participants' interpretative rights over their data and each other? How does thick description and the rich social interpretation it affords relate to the need for precise methods of explanation and generalisable conclusions? What special problems of research design or delivery arise when attempts are made to "empower" informants, to enable them to interrogate, and even co-construct the research story?

Keywordsoral history; research methodology
JournalForum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research
Journal citation9 (1)
ISSN1438-5627
Year2007
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-ND
Publication dates
Print2007
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Dec 2009
Additional information

Citation:
Ruppel, P. S. et al (2007) ‘Tackling problems of qualitative social research: A conversation.’ Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9 (1) Art. 41.

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