Researching Reproduction: Reflections on Qualitative Methodology in a Transforming Society

Kammila Naidoo


In this article, the researcher considers ways in which qualitative methods could be used when engaging in research on reproductive and sexual practices. The primary method in South African demographic research is the sample survey, which has entrenched its status as a source of "reliable" and "scientific" data. The drive, in the post-apartheid context, for increasing quantities of credible data for policy and planning purposes has not created considerable space for discussion on the role of "softer" or qualitative approaches. Whilst qualitative studies do hold importance as ad hoc contributions, they are rarely considered by demographers studying women's fertility to be viable alternatives to large-scale survey research. As South Africa braces itself for higher levels of mortality due to AIDS-related deaths, qualitative methods are being utilised to build subjective understandings of the AIDS-fertility relationship but rarely in terms of exclusively qualitative research designs. The article reflects on longitudinal fieldwork and focuses on alternative and "mixed" approaches in which qualitative methods could be drawn upon to illuminate the various facets of women's personal, social and cultural existences.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0801121


fertility; qualitative methodology; mixed methods; Winterveld; South Africa

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Copyright (c) 2008 Kammila Naidoo

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