The Value of Qualitative Data and their Archiving: the French Situation

  • Françoise Cribier Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Keywords: creating data, preservation, archiving, producers, re-using qualitative data, national scientific archive


Much qualitative data has been collected in France since the 1960s, helping to understand real lives lived by real people. They help to grasp the social density of cultures, social bonds, social strategies. They allow feelings and values to be expressed and produce a "not-simplistic" picture of social reality. Most "producers" had strong personal links with the data they created, but they were never encouraged nor helped to archive them with the result that they are poorly preserved, hard to locate, harder to access, and often lost or even destroyed. CRIBIER analyzes the types of data collected in various disciplinary fields since the 1960s, their criticisms, and the many reasons to preserve them—among others their complementarity with quantitative data. Collecting this rare and precious material is and will remain useful for several disciplines for understanding our societies. It is necessary to document, preserve, and take stock of these data, creating a national site, but also helping researchers to prepare their data and find the right archives in which they would be safe and useful. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502357


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Author Biography

Françoise Cribier, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Françoise CRIBIER. Present position: Directeur de recherche émérite at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Paris, Lasmas, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (CNRS-EHESS). Major research areas: longitudinal population studies of cohorts from birth to death; family; occupational and residential histories and social strategies; social gerontology; conservation and re-use of qualitative data.
How to Cite
Cribier, F. (2005). The Value of Qualitative Data and their Archiving: the French Situation. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2).
Part 2: The Why and How of Archiving Qualitative Data