Qualitative Methods

9. Summary

Quantitative researchers are rightly concerned to establish correlations between variables. However, while their approach can tell us a lot about inputs and outputs to some phenomenon (e.g. communication), it has to be satisfied with a purely ‘operational’ definition of the phenomenon and does not have the resources to describe how that phenomenon is locally constituted (see Figure 1). As a result, its contribution to social problems is necessarily lopsided and limited.

Figure 1

Missing Phenomenon in Quantitative Research

Image depicting missing phenomenon in qualitative research as described in text. Inputs arrow[the phenomenon] Outputs arrow

Heath, C. (2004). Analysing face-to-face interaction: Video, the visual and material. In D. Silverman (Ed.) Qualitative research (2nd Ed.), London: Sage: 266-82.
Silverman, D. (1997) Discourses of counselling: HIV counselling as social interaction, London: Sage.