Download The Dilemma of Qualitative Method: Herbert Blumer and the by Martyn Hammersley PDF

By Martyn Hammersley

The dispute over the worth of qualitative as opposed to quantitative ways to social learn originated in nineteenth and early 20th-century debates in regards to the dating among the equipment of historical past and usual technological know-how. inside of sociology, this dispute first arose within the usa through the Twenties and Nineteen Thirties, among adherents of "case learn" and statistical tools. one of many major advocates of case research used to be the Chicago sociologist, Herbert Blumer. His influential writings on method supply a hyperlink among this previous controversy and the debates of later a long time. although, Blumer's arguments for qualitative or "naturalistic" equipment, preserve a important ambivalence - does that strategy percentage a similar good judgment as common technological know-how, or does it signify a special type of enquiry attribute of heritage and the arts? That factor keeps to underlie discussions of qualitative procedure, and provokes basic questions on the approaches hired by means of qualitative researchers. "The drawback of Qualitative strategy" is a consultant to this key zone of social study technique. the writer sketches the ancient content material of the dispute and offers a close account and systematic research of Blumer's methodological writings, together with his doctoral thesis. The techniques for qualitative examine encouraged via Blumer and others in the Chicago culture are reviewed and assessed.

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Extra info for The Dilemma of Qualitative Method: Herbert Blumer and the Chicago Tradition

Sample text

History tries to provide an unambiguous account, not through definitions but through images that are as precise and clear as possible. For instance, in studying the French Revolution, historians focus on its distinctive features rather than what it shares with other revolutions. The question remains, though, of how we select individual facts to study. Rickert argues that this is done on the basis of values. He notes that not all individual phenomena are valued, and draws a distinction between two types of phenomena.

Peirce did not regard commonsense as arbitrary. Rather, it was the product of evolution. Evolution had, in his view, given us an intuitive tendency to produce sound hypotheses (Rescher 1978). Our ideas are corrected overtime by experience. Those thatwork, in the sense of facilitating successful action, are retained, while those that do not are discarded. Peirce referred to his own position as ‘critical commonsensism’, representing an acceptance of the validity of much commonsense knowledge, but also a willingness to subject it to assessment when it became doubtful (Almeder 1980:80–97).

Depending on the values they adopt, observers structure their interpretation of their experience in different ways. From this point of view, science and history have different methods because they have different concerns, and approach reality in different ways. Thus, Windelband distinguished between idiographic disciplines like history, that study the unique character of particular events, from nomothetic disciplines, like the natural sciences, whose aim is the identification of universal laws: the empirical sciences seek, in their pursuit of knowledge of reality, either the general in the form of laws of nature or the particular in the form of what is historically determined: they study on the one hand the permanently identical form, on the other hand the oncefor-all and completely determinate content of the real event.

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