A Companion to Qualitative Research

April 23, 2016

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.

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