Challenges of Multimethod and Mixed Methods Designs in Museum Research


  • Jennifer Eickelmann FernUniversität in Hagen
  • Nicole Burzan TU Dortmund



museum, mixed methods, multimethods, temporality, comparability, inequality, power, method addition, method integration, situating


In this article, we draw on two research projects on museums to present how we combined qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g. semi-structured interviews, non-standardised observations, focused ethnographies, ethnographic observations and conversations; standardised surveys and observations), which designs we used, and which opportunities and challenges we encountered. Given today's pluralised museum landscape, the research involved questions of whether and to what extent museums are oriented to offering experiences and which role museum guards play beyond their security function. We show how combining different methods can be particularly fruitful for examining fields characterised by a range of tensions from different perspectives. On the one hand, this allows us to grasp the (conflictual) interplay of different dimensions (actors, exhibition aesthetics, concepts, discourses), and on the other hand, we can broadly situate our objects of research and interpretations. The first challenge we discuss is the temporality of the empirical procedure, including questions of how linear and iterative approaches as well as procedures running in parallel and sequentially can be integrated. Secondly, we ask to what extent findings from different approaches and museums can be compared with each other during the analysis—broadly or deeply, with regard to the number of museums or dimensions.


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Author Biographies

Jennifer Eickelmann, FernUniversität in Hagen

Dr Jennifer EICKELMANN is assistant professor at the Faculty of Cultural and Social Sciences, FernUniversität in Hagen. She holds a PhD in media studies from the Institute of Media Studies of the Ruhr-University Bochum and was a long-standing research assistant in the field of social inequality and sociological museum research at TU Dortmund University. In her research, she focuses on the intersection of gender/queer media studies and the cultural sociology of social inequalities. She further develops transdisciplinary perspectives on digital cultures with a special focus on digital transformations of subjection as well as of cultural institutions, affective publics and digital forms of defiance and violence. She is co-editor of the open access book series "Digitale Kultur" [Digital Culture], Hagen University Press.

Nicole Burzan, TU Dortmund

Dr Nicole BURZAN is professor of sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at TU Dortmund University. Her research interests are social inequalities, especially from a cultural sociological perspective, sociology of time, and empirical methods/mixed methods. Fields of application are e.g. middle classes, mobility of academics, landlords, musical taste and museums. From 2017 to 2019 she was president of the German Sociological Association. Since 2020 she is (founding) dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. She is co-editor of the book series "Standards standardisierter und nichtstandardisierter Sozialforschung" [Standards of Standardised and Non-Standardised Empirical Social Research], Beltz Juventa.


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How to Cite

Eickelmann, J., & Burzan, N. (2023). Challenges of Multimethod and Mixed Methods Designs in Museum Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 24(1).