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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2021

Qualitative Methods

From the book Soziologie - Sociology in the German-Speaking World

  • Betina Hollstein and Nils C. Kumkar


The article reviews the broad and diverse landscape of qualitative methods in sociology in German-speaking countries. Historically, the development of qualitative methods can be characterized by a strong focus on text-based, sequential analytical approaches such as objective hermeneutics, narrative analysis, and the documentary method. In the first section,we briefly sketch this development up to the turn of the century. In the second section, we describe the changes in the qualitative landscape after the millennium. Three major lines of development can be identified: First, qualitative approaches have become institutionalized and canonized and have been increasingly translated into English. Second, in conjunction with a heightened interest in theories of practice, constructivism, and post-structuralism, other methods have also gained ground in German-speaking countries, in particular ethnographic approaches, grounded theory, and discourse analysis, which has resulted in a much broader and diverse qualitative field. Third, this broader spectrum also encompasses the inclusion of new data types, specifically visual data and especially images and films. In the last section, we highlight current challenges and directions for future research.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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