Investigating Collective and Individual Dynamics—Towards an Interpretative Social ResearchSensitive to History and Process

Gabriele Rosenthal


In my contribution I focus on the advantages of  rigorous interpretative or reconstructive social research in comparison to other qualitative methods. I attempt to show how we might be able to benefit from these advantages more consistently and extensively than we have so far. The following questions shall be asked: What are we able to achieve by intensive analysis of a small number of cases? What are the advantages of "theoretical generalizations" based on specific cases in comparison to qualitative procedures which aim for a numerical or quantitative generalization? To what extend are we able to arrive at more apt and more comprehensive conclusions about social (both collective and individual) reality; for example, a certain grouping, a particular organization, collective conflict, city, milieu or social network? In answering these questions, I make a plea for interpretative research becoming more historical and process-sociological. In my opinion, the chances for an actual "grounded theory" on the basis of empirical work lie in the more thorough reconstruction of processes of changes, including long-term processes, for particular "cases" and their interrelations with other "cases."



combination of methods; case reconstruction; biographical research; process sociology, figurational sociology; intercultural studies; migration research; interpretative sociology


Copyright (c) 2016 Gabriele Rosenthal

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