Review Essay: From Margins to Centers ... Hopefully

  • Lawrence J. Hammar Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research
Keywords: qualitative research methods, case study, health research, medical sociology, qualitative/quantitative divide


Qualitative Methods for Health Research is a well written introductory text for health professionals who are stretching toward more qualitative perspectives, methods and modes of analysis. The authors discuss key texts and apt case studies from medical sociology and medical anthropology, critical theory, ethnography, public health and research ethics to exemplify the merits of (and unflinchingly note the drawbacks of) qualitative strategies and perspectives. The text is reader-friendly in layout and pace and presents many interesting case studies drawn from the authors' research and that of others. It aims for rapprochement rather than scorched earth in its handling of the qualitative/quantitative divide. As such, it breaks little theoretical ground, but that is probably more a sign of the intended audience (the not-yet converted) than of the predilections and analytical skills of the authors. GREEN and THOROGOOD discuss the importance of considering epistemological and ontological questions in health research, but without getting bogged down in post- and post-postmodern anxieties. More of a friendly companion than a step-by-step recipe book, this text aims to show budding researchers not so much how, but rather, why to frame research questions better, how to conceptualize more appropriate choices of method, and ways that researchers can present data in more multiplex, multi-voiced fashion so as to be more persuasive. The writing is fresh, the perspective is honest and the outcome is a generally compelling, thrills-and-spills introduction to qualitative research on health issues and in health-care settings. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs050242


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Author Biography

Lawrence J. Hammar, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research
Lawrence J. HAMMAR is a Senior Research Fellow at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. As a cultural-medical anthropologist who has longstanding interests in gender and sexuality, Melanesia, and qualitative research, his publications range to and between medical humanities, ethnography, gender studies, public health, Pacific studies and medical experimentation. He currently helps to lead a nationwide study in Papua New Guinea of HIV and AIDS and sexual health. In a previous issue of FQS Lawrence J. HAMMAR has written a review on Shattering Frames: Transgressions and Transformations in Anthropological Discourse and Practice (by Klaus-Peter KÖPPING).
How to Cite
Hammar, L. J. (2005). Review Essay: From Margins to Centers . Hopefully. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2).