Qualitative Social Science in the UK: A Reflexive Commentary on the "State of the Art"


  • Karen Henwood Cardiff University
  • Iain Lang Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital




qualitative methods, social science methodology, UK social research, qualitative re­search resources


UK social science is characterised by an ever increasing expectation that it should be able to demonstrate excellence not only in terms of scientific and intellectual considerations. In ad­dition, it must link its relevance and worth to a wide range of stakeholders and users of research. This "climate of change" is seen in the un­pre­ced­ented level of strategic initiatives that are currently under­way. The purpose of this article is to consider some of these strategic developments and how they seek to promote leading edge developments in social science methodology. Attention is focus­sed, in particular, on the place of qualitative method­ologies and methods within these develop­ments. One of the sections of the article reports on the main findings of a consultation exercise with UK social scientists on qualitative research resources. A key interest throughout the article is in articu­lating the explicit and implicit agendas that are energising and motivating what may be called the "turn to methodology" in funded UK social science in the early 21st century URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503486


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Author Biographies

Karen Henwood, Cardiff University

Dr Karen HENWOOD is a social psychologist by training, and has substantive research interests in the role of culture, difference and life history in the formation of identity and subjectivity. She has undertaken research projects on gender and family relationships, masculinity and the body, and the meanings and non-economic values people attach to their natural environment. Currently she is involved in a collaborative research project investigating a narrative approach to values, identity and risk, as part of ESRC's "Risk and Social Context Network". Throughout her career she has explored the role of qualitative methods in psychology and the social sciences. Her published articles have appeared in journals such as British Journal of Psychology, Feminism and Psychology, Theory and Psychology, Journal of Environmental Psychology; Social Science and Medicine and British Journal of Social Psychology.

Iain Lang, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital

Dr Iain LANG (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/impressum/lang-e.htm)




How to Cite

Henwood, K., & Lang, I. (2005). Qualitative Social Science in the UK: A Reflexive Commentary on the "State of the Art". Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-6.3.16



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