The Resurgence, Legitimation and Institutionalization of Qualitative Methods

  • Nigel Fielding University of Surrey
Keywords: postgraduate methodology training, social science curriculum, history of qualitative methods, Chicago School


The article considers the place of qualitative research methods in the university curriculum, with a subsidiary commentary on changing uses and applications of qualitative research. There is a discussion of the emergence and early days of qualitative methodology, and its place in the foundational social science curriculum, with some emphasis on the Chicago School and the status of qualitative sociology's creation myth. Qualitative methods were increasingly marginalized during the reign of structural/functionalism, with its affinity for macro-level and/or quantitative analysis. The emergence of grounded theory saw an accelerating resurgence of qualitative method but there were important variations in the picture in North America, the U.K. and continental European social science. The present period is characterized as one of increasing legitimation and even institutionalization. The role in this of US federal program evaluation research, new research technologies and infrastructural resources, and trends in popularity amongst students, accounts for the current place of qualitative research methods in the university curriculum. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502324


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Author Biography

Nigel Fielding, University of Surrey
Nigel FIELDING ( Present position: Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Institute of Social Research, University of Surrey, Guildford, U.K. Major research areas: qualitative research methods; new technologies for social research; criminal justice.
How to Cite
Fielding, N. (2005). The Resurgence, Legitimation and Institutionalization of Qualitative Methods. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2).
Part 1: The Why and How of Qualitative Methods