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The Concise Encyclopedia of Communication by Wolfgang Donsbach

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Q

Qualitative Methodology

Armin Scholl

University of Münster

Qualitative methodology is basically characterized by its openness towards the research object in order to reconstruct its attributes authentically and to gain a deeper insight into these attributes. As a consequence, the research process includes an interactive and close relationship between the researcher and the researched persons or material rather than an objective, detached, or neutral relationship.

Principal Aim of Qualitative Methodology

Insofar as methods are not considered neutral tools to describe and explain reality as objects, researchers are part of the social reality under study. In action research, e.g., researched persons are even considered participants of a common research aim, which should be cooperatively and commonly developed (→ Participatory Action Research). The researcher’s subjectivity does not impede the quality of the research results; it is clearly visible within the research process and guarantees a successful collection of information about the researched phenomenon and an in-depth understanding of it. The results of qualitative research processes are context-bound (‘thick’) descriptions, which can be enriched by choosing varying perspectives and tools.

Therefore qualitative research approaches often include a combination of methods, e.g., ethnography (→ Ethnography of Communication), which combines participant → observation and in-depth interviews (→ Interview, Qualitative). Such combinations ...

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