Aaron V. Cicourel: I Am NOT Opposed to Quantification or Formalization or Modeling, but I Do Not Want to Pursue Quantitative Methods That Are Not Commensurate With the Research Phenomena Addressed

  • Andreas Witzel
  • Günter Mey University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal
Keywords: statistical methods, field research, ethnography, sociolinguistics, ecological validity, qualitative interviews, information processing, communication, national research culture


In this interview, which was conducted mainly by e-mail, we trace the evolution of Aaron V. CICOUREL's thinking and career. In Part 1 we begin with his undergraduate education, then as a doctoral student, as an assistant professor, and his experiences with field research. Part 2 con­tains his critical reflections on the ecological val­idity problem which underlie self-contained inter­views and surveys that lack ethnographic data. In Part 3 he shows that it is necessary—and this is his specific contribution to the qualitative approach—to reflect on respondents' daily life experiences and understanding of fixed-choice or open-ended questions. Many strategies for valid interviews are also discussed in this part. Part 4 contains CICOUREL's reflections on the broad field of qualitative research and his own current research on daily life decision-making, routine information and communication processing, or activating memo­ry. Different methods for analyzing natural settings are proposed. In the Part 5 general devel­op­ments in qualitative research—challenges, ob­sta­cles and solutions—are pointed out. In Part 6 CICOUREL describes national differences of research cultures in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0403412


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Author Biographies

Andreas Witzel
Andreas WITZEL (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/beirat/witzel-e.htm), Dipl.-Psych., is director of the Life-Course-Archive on the Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS), University of Bremen. His major research interests include qualitative methodology and methods, occupational socialization, biography and the life course, especially the transition from school to work.
Günter Mey, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal
Günter MEY (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/impressum/mey-e.htm) is assistant professor and Chair of the Developmental Unit at Technische Universität Berlin until March 2005. His research interests include qualitative methodology and methods, narrative identity and cultural psychology, online-communication/publishing and open access.

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