Qualitative research is a growing and ever more diverse field. The continuous development of new approaches, new methods and new techniques results in a wider and wider diversity in the literature – in books, in journals and on the Internet. Students, as well as experienced researchers, will find it increasingly difficult to keep up with these developments and with the range of methodological alternatives available for doing their own research projects. The Companion to Qualitative Research seeks to highlight and illustrate connections, common ground and differences in the heterogeneous developments of qualitative research. It intends to give readers a representative overview of the current landscape of qualitative research with its epistemological roots, its main theoretical principles, its methodological bases and the development of its procedures, and also to offer an impression of trends for further development. To achieve this, themes from current debates in the German- and English-speaking worlds have been brought together, so that the Companion takes a wider, international perspective on qualitative research with authors from Continental Europe, Britain and North America.
At the outset, the Companion presents examples of how qualitative research operates in action, using descriptions of the research style of various scholars who have had major impacts on this field or are particularly instructive in their way of doing research. This first part of the book is intended to explain the unique contribution that qualitative research has made to the acquisition of achieving knowledge in the social sciences, to theory construction and to methodology.
The theory of qualitative research is explained by presenting the most important background theories, which are illustrated using examples from selected areas of interest for qualitative research. Issues of methodology and qualitative research are central to the next part of the Companion, where issues of research design, epistemology and evaluation of methodological procedures and results are outlined.
The major part of this Companion is devoted to the presentation of the most important methods currently used for doing qualitative research. Practice in the collection and interpretation of qualitative research data therefore occupies a central place in the book.
The concluding part looks at qualitative research in context. Contributions are included on research ethics, on teaching and on the application of qualitative research, as well as critical reflections on the status and future prospects of qualitative research.
This Companion is intended for students of a variety of disciplines where qualitative research is applied. For this reason, we have appended a separate part on resources which includes recommendations for further reading fromintroductory works and classic textbooks of qualitative research, and also offers lists of journals and current Internet sources. The Companion is also intended for thos who teach social sciences and, finally, should also be a useful reference work for qualitative researchers in universities and in professional practice. It is not intended to replace a course book of qualitative research. Nor should it be seen as a ‘recipe book’ to be used as the sole aid in setting up a concrete piece of research. It seeks, rather, to provide orientation, background knowledge and reflection and to give information about current trends and developments. Each contribution offers suggestions for further reading.
We wish to express our warmest thanks to all the authors for their contributions and for their willingness to rewrite and revise them.
Also, we would like to thank the people who have supported the development of this book over the years, especially Michael Carmichael and Patrick Brindle at Sage and Burghard König at Rowohlt.