chapter  2
15 Pages

Never mind the quality …? Developments in ethnographic and qualitative research

WithRobert G. Burgess

This chapter focuses on the development of ethnographic and qualitative research. Many current empirical projects conducted by researchers and postgraduates in sociology quickly reveals that the most popular choice of methodology is what could be described as 'qualitative' or 'field research' or 'case study' or 'ethnography'. The main research techniques to which participant observation was compared were those methods associated with the social survey: the questionnaire and the formal interview. The way in which sociologists have developed a distinctive approach to ethnographic enquiry is such that it is derived partly from social anthropology and partly through studies of urban industrial society, particularly through the Chicago school in America. Developments in ethnographic and qualitative research have had an impact upon the ways in which sociologists discuss the research process, write about the conduct of research and teach students about doing research. The researcher can consider how different methodological approaches can be utilized and developed in relation to sponsorship, funding and timescales.