Foundations of Qualitative Research
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Foundations of Qualitative Research

Interpretive and Critical Approaches



© 2007 | 392 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
"Willis catches the student up on relevant aspects of philosophy, empiricism, history, and prevailing political influences. This building of chronology is so valuable for students in understanding the origins of specific schools of thought in relations to a paradigm."

Heather T. Zeng, NACADA



Foundations of Qualitative Research introduces key theoretical and epistemological concepts replete with historical and current real-world examples. Author Jerry W. Willis provides an invaluable resource to guide the critical and qualitative inquiry process written in an accessible and non-intimidating style that brings these otherwise difficult concepts to life.

Key Features:  
  • Covers the conceptual foundations of interpretive, critical, and post-positivist paradigms: A thorough background of theory and social inquiry is given by looking at the development of each paradigm throughout history.
  • Provides real-world examples: Cases illustrate different approaches to the same research problem so that students can better understand the contrasting features of these paradigms.
  • Introduces seven qualitative research frameworks: In-depth coverage is provided on Altheide and Johnson's Analytic Realism; Denzin and Lincoln's Interpretive Perspective; Eisner's Connoisseurship Model of Inquiry; Semiotics; the Phenomenological Psychological Model; Poststructuralism and Postmodernism; and Symbolic Interactionism.
  • Offers general guidelines for qualitative research: Conceptually covers the best practices, approaches to data analysis, and interpretation of qualitative research.
  • Examines emergent methods in qualitative research: New research areas such as PAR, emancipatory research, and participatory design research are included, as well as exemplary journal articles to further illustrate how theory links to research practice.

Intended Audience:  
This text is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students taking their first or second qualitative research methods course in the fields of Education, Psychology, and the Health and Social Sciences. It is also an excellent theory companion supplement to the more applied qualitative methods text.
Chapter 1: World Views, Paradigms, and the Practice of Social Science Research
Case 1. Quantitative Research  
Case 2. Qualitative Research  
Thinking about the Foundations and Practice of Research  
What This Book Is and Is Not About.  
What Warrants Our Attention?  
The Traditional Canon  
Alternative Paradigms  
New Techniques or New Paradigms?  
Chapter 2: History and Context of Paradigm Development
Positivism: A Response to Metaphysical and Magical Explanations  
Critical Theory: A Response to Inequities in Society  
Interpretivism: A Response to the Excesses of “Scientific” Social Science  
The Special Cases of Postmodernism and Feminism  
Chapter 3: Foundational Issues: Postpositivist and Critical Perspectives
Social Science Research: The View from the Postpositivist Paradigm  
Social Science Research: The View from the Critical Theory Paradigm  
Chapter 4: History and Foundations of Interpretivist Research
(1) Nature of Reality.  
(2) Purpose of Research.  
(3) Acceptable Methodology/Data.  
(4) The Meaning of Data  
(5) Relationship of Research to Practice.  
The Implications of an Interpretivist Approach  
What Sorts of Research are Worthwhile?  
Examples of Interpretive Research  
Chapter 5: Frameworks for Qualitative Research
Postpositivist Research  
“Moments” of Qualitative Research  
Some General Frameworks for Qualitative Research  
Chapter 6: General Guidelines for Qualitative Research
Guidelines for Qualitative Research  
Situated or Contextual Understanding, Not Truth, is the Purpose of Research  
Accept Multiple Sources of Influence  
Take A Foundational Rather Than Technique Perspective  
Practice Recursive (Iterative ) and Emergent Data Collection and Analysis  
Use Multiple Sources of Data  
Think of Research as a Reflective Process  
The Researcher is the Primary Tool for Data Collection and Analysis  
An Emphasis on Participatory versus Nonparticipatory Research.  
Adopt an Open Approach  
Deal With Bias Directly  
Select Natural Contexts for Research  
Research Should be Holistic, Not Atomistic  
Research Involves More Than Induction and Deduction: Analogical Reasoning, Abduction, and Family Resemblances  
Alternatives to Postpositivist Criteria for Believability: Validity and Reliability  
Alternative Approaches to Validity and Reliability: Triangulation and More  
Conclusions? Aren’t They Generalizations?  
Chapter 7: Methods of Qualitative Research
Case 1: Action Research on a Pediatric Surgical Ward  
Established Qualitative Research Methods  
Ethnography  
Case Studies: Another Form of Qualitative Observation  
Interview Research  
Historigraphy  
Historiography: The Research Methods of History Innovative Methods  
Participatory Qualitative Research  
Emancipatory Research  
Critical Emancipatory Action Research  
Chapter 8: Approaches to Data Analysis and Intepretation
The Purpose of Research  
General Theory  
Objective Description  
Hermeneutic (Verstehen) Understanding  
Story telling/Narrative  
Data Analysis Families  
Eyeballing the Data  
Connoisseurship: A Global Perspective  
Hermeneutics as a Data Analysis Method  
Grounded Theory  
Analytic Induction  
A Final Topic: The Ethics of Research  
Chapter 9: 21st Century Social Science: Peering into the Future
Will the Cacophony Continue?  
Why Can’t Social Science Converge on The Answer?  
Competition  
Linearity  
Dialog as an Alternative to Competition  
Three Approaches to Knowing in Greek Thought  
Plato  
Aristotle  
The Humanities  
Choices 20th Century Social Science Made  
Suppose We Chose Badly  
Two Theories That May Help Us Build 21st Century Social Science  
Poetic Logic  
Chaos and Complexity Theory: Another Route to a Nonlinea Social Science  

"Willis catches the student up on relevant aspects of philosophy, empiricism, history, and prevailing political influences.  This building of chronology is so valuable for students in understanding the origins of specific schools of thought in relations to a paradigm."

Heather T. Zeng, NACADA

Heather T. Zeng
Park University
National ACademic ADvising Association

This is a useful book that is recommended for PG level.

Mrs Joan Howarth
School of Health (Kedleston Cps), Derby University
April 21, 2015

A 'must read' for Education and social science students commencing research at UG or PG level. Expertly written, appropriate detail, thought provoking

Mr Andrew Holmes
Centre for Educational Studies, Hull University
May 20, 2014

excellent for health and social care students

Miss Jude Radford
Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
February 26, 2014

excellent for health and social care students

Miss Jude Radford
Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
February 26, 2014
Key features
  • Covers the conceptual foundations of interpretive, critical, and post-positivist paradigms of qualitative research;
  • Provides substantial historical background of theory and social inquiry by positioning the development of each paradigm as a reaction to problems throughout history;
  • Uses cases (fictional and real-world) to illustrate different approaches to the same research problem or question so that students can better understand the contrasting features of these approaches/paradigms;
  • Introduces seven qualitative research frameworks: Altheide and Johnson's Analytic Realism; Denzin and Lincoln's Interpretive Perspective; Eisner's Connoisseurship Model of Inquiry; Semiotics; the Phenomenological Psychological Model; Poststructuralism and Postmodernism; and Symbolic Interactionism;
  • Summarizes Denzin and Lincoln's "moments" of qualitative research to provide a historical perspective on the development of qualitative methods;
  • Covers conceptually the best practices, and approaches to data analysis and interpretation of qualitative research;
  • Introduces emergent methods in qualitative research, such as PAR, emancipatory research, and participatory design research.

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