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Dictionary

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

Maggie Sumner

Research that investigates aspects of social life which are not amenable to quantitative measurement. Associated with a variety of theoretical perspectives, qualitative research uses a range of methods to focus on the meanings and interpretation of social phenomena and social processes in the particular contexts in which they occur. Qualitative research is not a single set of theoretical principles, a single research strategy or a single method (Silverman, 1993). It developed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, across a range of disciplines, on varied and sometimes conflicting philosophical and theoretical bases, including cultural anthropology, interpretive sociologies (such as symbolic interactionism), phenomenology and, more recently, hermeneutics, critical theory, feminism, post-colonial theory, cultural studies, post-structuralism and postmodernism. These diverse approaches inevitably give rise to ...

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