More Participation Within Reconstructive Research: Explanation Videos as Introduction Into Research With the Documentary Method


  • Matthias Otten Technische Hochschule Köln
  • Sebastian Hempel Hochschule RheinMain



reconstructive research, documentary method, participation, participatory research, explanation videos, teaching in higher education, research-based learning


Taking the documentary method as our example, we present the concept and use of explanation videos in easy language. The videos are suitable used for academic teaching and research as a low-threshold pathway towards reconstructive thinking especially for persons without any previous research experience. This approach is rooted in our observation that meaningful participation in complex qualitative research is not possible without some rudimentary understanding of the logic of reconstructive reasoning and research. Our starting-point for developing these videos was a recent, partially but not strictly participatory research project about inclusive adult education. The documentary method was used for analyzing the social praxis and habitual formations in a specific inclusive setting in higher education. In this context, it was crucial that all members of our participatory research group understood how we arrived at our findings. To achieve this, it was necessary that we introduce the documentary method in an accessible and meaningful format in non-academic language. In this article we explain the didactic reasons for the composition and script of the videos. From a methodological perspective, we further reflect upon the relationship between reconstructive research as a genuine methodological position and participatory research as a mode or a style of doing research. In our conclusion we argue in favor of taking a more strongly participatory approach within reconstructive research methods and projects, especially within the documentary method, not only for ethical reasons but also with a view to its epistemic potential.


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Author Biographies

Matthias Otten, Technische Hochschule Köln

Matthias OTTEN lehrt und forscht seit 2009 als Professor für Politikwissenschaft und interkulturelle Bildung am Institut für Interkulturelle Bildung und Entwicklung der Technischen Hochschule Köln. Seine Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind interkulturelle und internationale soziale Arbeit, Migrations- und Fluchtforschung, Teilhabeforschung, Disability Studies und qualitative Sozialforschung.

Sebastian Hempel, Hochschule RheinMain

Sebastian HEMPEL ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter im Fachbereich Sozialwesen der Hochschule RheinMain und Promovend am Hessischen Promotionszentrum für Soziale Arbeit. In seiner Dissertation forscht er rekonstruktiv zu Normalitätsorientierungen in verschiedenen Handlungskontexten der sozialen Arbeit.



How to Cite

Otten, M., & Hempel, S. (2022). More Participation Within Reconstructive Research: Explanation Videos as Introduction Into Research With the Documentary Method. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(1).



FQS Debate: Teaching and Learning Qualitative Methods