FQS – Debate: “Quality of Qualitative Research” #sociology #sssi #emca

Announcement, Call for Papers, quantitative/qualitative, research methods, Uncategorized

Over 20 years ago, in 2000, Franz Breuer, Jo Reichertz and Wolff-Michael Roth started a FQS debate on the “Quality of Qualitative Research.” In past contributions to this debate a wide range of issues has been discussed, such as various qualitative techniques of collecting or analyzing data, or the application of such methods within different disciplinary and institutional contexts. Since its beginning, the call for contributions to this debate has remained unchanged, while academic discussions surrounding this topic have changed substantially. The questions that were raised originally—What is “good” science? What are “good” social sciences? What is “good” qualitative social research? What are the criteria and standards for such evaluations?—are still relevant today and will continue to provide a baseline for future contributions, however, an update of the call for this FQS debate may be in order.

In the past, qualitative researchers have fought hard for acceptance and recognition of their work; this battle has largely been won. Today, in most social science disciplines (perhaps with the exception of psychology), qualitative epistemologies, theories, and methods are used and taught as “mainstream” science alongside their quantitative counterparts. Most university colleagues, students, and administrators have fully accepted their legitimacy and utility. While this is excellent news, it does not mean that debates about the “quality” of qualitative research have been, or should be, abandoned. Today, such debates take place in multiple contexts of discourse in which the “quality” of qualitative research is understood and treated in very different ways.

  1. The continued globalization and interdisciplinary appeal of qualitative research has accelerated the diversification of existing frameworks, theories, methodologies and methods. We are encountering many innovative developments that originate within the “older” qualitative approaches, such as social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, conversation analysis, phenomenology, hermeneutics, grounded theory methodology, and discourse analysis. In addition, today, many qualitative researchers transcend traditional boundaries and draw on a much broader theoretical canon when using and developing new qualitative methods, including critical approaches such as feminist, postcolonial and critical race theories, political economy frameworks, as well as postmodernism, poststructuralism and arts-based epistemologies. Moreover, collaboration between qualitative social scientists and scholars from discipline as diverse as the arts, design, computer sciences, medicine, and other health sciences have accelerated the development of “alternative” research methods. These developments lead to many new questions, such as: What does the new theoretical landscape of qualitative epistemologies and methodologies look like? How do various national and cultural contexts shape developments and debates of new qualitative frameworks? Finally, how is the “quality” of new qualitative research practices assessed across different disciplines and epistemological contexts?
  2. Over the past 20 years, qualitative research has been influenced by tremendous developments and expansions in technology and social media. Researchers increasingly use tools such as video-cameras, smart phones, and the Internet to collect data. A wide array of software packages has both reduced and increased the complexity of data collection and analysis. We must ask new questions, such as: How does the proliferation of new tools and technologies shape the practical and intellectual work of qualitative researchers? Which new social worlds and relationships have emerged, and how should they be examined and theorized qualitatively?
  • Funding mechanisms in the (social) sciences have also changed substantially, alongside institutional structures in the university. Today, in addition to public and non-profit funding bodies, researchers must turn to private and commercial institutions to acquire resources, some of which are very open toward qualitative approaches while others question their utility. New questions, such as the following, emerged: How do changes in funding and other institutional structures influence the theory and practice of qualitative research? How do the new funding and institutional landscapes vary by country, by region, and by discipline? What impacts do these changes have on the selection of research topics and on qualitative research ethics and responsibilities?
  • Lastly scientific research has increasingly come under pressure from politicians and policy makers, as well as from other influential experts, who have bluntly questioned the scholarly enterprise and confronted all scientific research with hostility and antagonism. This raises questions, such as: How do researchers who use qualitative theories, methodologies and methods respond to fundamental challenges of their (social) scientific expertise? How do they convince public audiences that their work raises and helps solve important questions?

Despite long-standing discussions about the quality of qualitative research, still no agreement has been reached about a catalogue of criteria that would serve to guarantee its value across the myriad contexts in which it is used today, similar to the classical, canonical standards that exist for quantitative scholars. In fact, we must broaden our understandings of what qualitative research is, and how it is practiced, while we continue to ask questions about its “quality.” The many issues and questions raised above may serve to re-invigorate discussions about the “Quality of Qualitative Research” in this FQS Debates, in alignment with current developments and concerns. As internal and external conditions for qualitative research practice have changed, a new engagement with the original issues, we hope, will invite new participants, raise new questions, and will lead to new insights within this worthwhile “Quality” debate. A reconfigured international FQS debate team eagerly awaits your submissions.

This is a Call without a deadline.

For questions, please contact the Section Editors: Franz Breuer, Paul Eisewicht, Margarethe Kusenbach, Jo Reichertz, Dirk vom Lehn, e-mail: deb_quality@qualitative-research.net

CfP – ‘The Senses in Social Interaction – Symbolic Interaction Special Issue

Announcement, Call for Papers

Co-edited by Will Gibson (University College London, Institute of Education) & Dirk vom Lehn (King’s College London) 

Extended Submission Deadline: August 25th, 2019

Symbolic Interaction invites submissions for a Special Issue exploring the role of the senses in social interaction. Our particular concern is with how the senses are invoked in communicative practice in everyday life and how people make their sensorial experiences accountable to one another. The papers will mark a turning point in the study of the senses by analysing empirically senses as interactional phenomena — i.e. how people communicate about the senses; how talk, gesture, gaze, material artefacts, physical environments, and other resources are used to make the senses accountable to other participants; and how senses are made relevant and observable to unfolding interaction. We regard this approach as contrasting with existing research in the field that often looks at the ‘cultural significance’ of sensorial action or at the phenomenological experience and the meanings of sensorial action in absence of a close analysis of the interaction order in which such meanings are situated. 

Studies have begun to explore the ways that the sensorial activities figure in and configure social practices, and how they play a role in the structuring of contextually specific ‘practical relevancies’ (Mann 2018). We are particularly interested in research that develops this idea by looking at how the senses become relevant to ‘making something happen’. This ‘something’ may be in an organisational context, such as at work or in an organisationally ‘structured’ experience like visiting a gallery or going to a concert. Similarly, papers may look at more mundane contexts such as chatting, shopping, eating/drinking either in private or public spaces. A part of our interest is in exploring the methodological challenges in studying the senses (Vannini et al., 2012). In the light of this, we would be keen to publish a variety of methodological approaches from different theoretical perspectives, and to include work that uses a range of methods including observations and video methods, but also more experimental forms using contemporary modes of data representation from the arts. 

We welcome tentative expressions of interest and are happy to explore the fit of possible research papers with the above theme. Full papers should be submitted to the online system of Symbolic Interaction. Please select the tab related to this Special Issue when submitting your paper, or indicate in your cover letter that your paper is for the Special Issue. 

Deadline for submission is August 25th, 2019. Papers should not be longer than 8000 words (inclusive of references). Please follow the submission guidelines for the Symbolic Interaction journal. You will be informed by mid-October if your paper has been accepted for the Special Issue and if revisions are required to prepare the paper for publication. 

Will Gibson – w.gibson@ucl.ac.uk – Dirk vom Lehn – dirk.vom_lehn@kcl.ac.uk 

References 

Mann A (2018) Ordering tasting in a restaurant: experiencing, socializing, and processing food. The Senses and Society 13(2). 135–146. 

Vannini P, Waskul D and Gottschalk S (2013) The Senses in Self, Society, and Culture: A Sociology of the Senses (Contemporary Sociological Perspectives). Routledge. 

‘The Senses in Interaction’ – Call for Abstracts – ISA 2018 in Toronto

Announcement, Call for Papers

Will Gibson (UCL) and I are organising a session titled “The Senses in Interaction’ at the 2018 Conference of the International Sociology Association in Toronto. The Call for Abstracts for the larger track on “Senses and Society” led by Kelvin Low (National University of Singapore) has just been published on the ISA Website. Please click on the image below to be directed there.

senses-ISA