• Thomas S. Eberle Universität St. Gallen
  • Manfred Max Bergman University of Basel



qualitative inquiry, promoting qualitative research, institutionalization, legitimation, conceptual breaks, quality in qualitative methods, archiving data, on-line services, qualitative-quantitative divide, integrated data analysis, user support


This special issue presents reflections of international scholars on selected core issues of qualitative inquiry. They were produced in the context of an initiative to promote qualitative research in Switzerland, notably to build a network among qualitative researchers, to reflect on possibilities for a consensus on quality standards and teaching requirements, and to explore the viability of an archive and resource center for qualitative research. In the first part on the why and how of qualitative methods the reasons and objectives of the initiative are delineated, and the process of resurgence, legitimation, and institutionalization of qualitative methods is described. Then three major conceptual breaks in the field of qualitative inquiry are identified, and quality concerns in qualitative methods are discussed. In the second part on the why and how of archiving qualitative data, the situation in different European countries is presented. While France is just starting to collect qualitative data for archiving, the QualiData archive in Great Britain has already existed for more than a decade. In Germany, the Bremen Life Course Archive has the longest experience with systematic archiving of qualitative data. Crossing national borders, the Internet brings new challenges and potentials of providing resources and services on-line. It is also argued that the qualitative-quantitative divide is not very helpful, neglecting the complementarity and proximity of the two groups of methods in research, education, and archiving. It also prevents integrated data analysis and integrated styles of research, creating different archives and different types of software. Finally, crucial experiences of the QualiData archive in the area of user support are described and future measures discussed which should be taken. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502303


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Author Biographies

Thomas S. Eberle, Universität St. Gallen

Thomas Samuel EBERLE ( Present position: Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Institute of Sociology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Currently President of the Swiss Sociological Association. Chair of the Research Network "Qualitative Methods" of the European Sociological Association (ESA) 2001-2003. Major research areas: phenomenological sociology; sociology of knowledge; methodology; sociology of culture, communication and organizations.

Manfred Max Bergman, University of Basel

Manfred Max BERGMAN. Present position: Professor of Sociology, University of Basel, Switzerland. Major research areas: quality assessment; data theory; mixed methods design; inequality; stratification; exclusion; discrimination.




How to Cite

Eberle, T. S., & Bergman, M. M. (2005). Introduction. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2).

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