Qualitative Research—Unity and Diversity


  • Paul Atkinson Cardiff University




ethnography, thick description, triangulation, grounded theory, discourse, visual ethnography, material culture


The paper argues that while qualitative research has been flourishing in many fields of the social sciences, it has become unhelpfully fragmented and incoherent. Equally, there have developed a number of specialist domains of qualitative research that are too often treated in isolation. It is argued that we need to return to some fundamental principles of ethnographic inquiry that recognise the multiple modalities of social action and cultural representation, while locating them within a wider ethnographic framework. We need to recognise the intrinsic, indigenous principles of order and organisation that permeate social forms—discursive, visual, and material. Such formal ethnography provides a way of renewing classic ideas such as "grounded theory", "triangulation" and "thick description". URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503261


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Author Biography

Paul Atkinson, Cardiff University

Paul ATKINSON is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at Cardiff University, and is Associate Director of the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen). He is co-editor of the Sage journal Qualitative Research and was co-editor of the Handbook of Ethnography (Sage). His books include: Everyday Arias (AltaMira); Medical Talk and Medical Work (Sage); The Ethnographic Imagination (Routledge); making Sense of Ethnographic Texts (Sage); Martyn HAMMERSLEY and Paul ATKINSON, Ethnography: Principles in Practice (Routledge); Amanda COFFEY and Paul ATKINSON Making Sense of Qualitative Data (Sage); Sara DELAMONT and Paul ATKINSON, Fighting Familiarity (Hampton); Paul ATKINSON, Amanda COFFEY and Sara DELAMONT, Key Themes in Qualitative Research (AltaMira), Paul ATKINSON and William HOUSLEY, Interactionism (Sage).




How to Cite

Atkinson, P. (2005). Qualitative Research—Unity and Diversity. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-6.3.4



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