Carla Willig (Professor, City, University of London)

Feb 15, 2022, 12:00 pm1:00 pm


Event Description

Carla Willig

"What makes qualitative research ‘research’? : Mapping the remit of qualitative psychology"

Qualitative research in psychology has many different faces. It can remind us of fiction or memoir, it can resemble critical literature reviewing or look a lot like a clinical case study. Furthermore, anything that captures human experience can be used as qualitative data, and there are many ways in which such data can be analysed. The kinds of insights generated on the basis of qualitative analysis range from realist claims about the occurrence of social processes in the real world at one end of the spectrum, to relativist accounts of how particular versions of reality are talked into being on the other. In the face of such diversity, it can be difficult to identify the boundaries that demarcate qualitative psychology as a discipline distinct from other scholarly pursuits and social engagements.

In this presentation I seek to clarify matters by first identifying features that are shared by all qualitative approaches and which characterise qualitative research in general. Then I am going to show how qualitative approaches can differ greatly in their specific aims, the types of research question they address, the procedures they deploy for data collection and analysis, their ontological- epistemological orientation and, as a result, the types of insights they can generate. I go on to argue that despite these differences all qualitative research is based upon the application of systematic, transparent methodological procedures that extract meaning from data to provide answers to research questions in order to fill gaps in our knowledge. The presentation concludes by identifying four ways in which qualitative research contributes to psychological knowledge.

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