This book is a translation of “Crafting Qualitative Research: Working in the Postpositivist Traditions” written by Pushkala Prasad in 2005. The term “craft” is used to indicate the production of an object with care and ingenuity by skilled individuals, although it does not appear in the Japanese title since it is difficult to paraphrase it with a single Japanese word. From this title, we observe that the author’s intention is to provide a pathway for the interpretation of non-numerical data and to develop it as a sophisticated research program.
Qualitative methodologies are widely accepted in various research areas in the humanities and social sciences. These methodologies work from a “post-positivist” epistemology, in contrast to quantitative research, which uses experiments and survey methods. It takes a meta-theoretical stance to think of the world as socially constructed, rather than as an object that is separate from the self.
There are various schools of thought and traditions in the post-positivist epistemology. Researchers who aspire to conduct qualitative research are required to have a clear vision of their theoretical and philosophical basis and analyze their data accordingly. However, existing textbooks have dealt with the methods of carrying out the research, without any description of theories and philosophies underlying these methods.
There are two distinctive features of this book. First, it covers thirteen diverse schools of thought and traditions of post-positivist epistemology on which qualitative research is based. It introduces many major figures, including Blumer (symbolic interactionism), Dilthey and Gadamer (hermeneutics), Goffman (dramaturgy), Garfinkel (ethnomethodology), Saussure and Peirce (semiotics and structuralism), Frankfurt School and Habermas (critical theory), Giddens (structuration), Bourdieu (praxeology), Lyotard and Baudrillard (postmodernism), and Foucault and Derrida (poststructuralism).
Second, the book is written by a single author with panoramic vision rather than having several experts write about each tradition separately. In most chapters, the author focuses on a specific research tradition and provides its philosophical underpinnings, specific research projects in the areas of organization and management (reflecting the author’s expertise) which work in these traditions, related debates, and the future direction of the research tradition. In addition, the book presents tree diagrams that provide a panoramic view of the genealogy and interconnections of the different schools of thought and traditions. The author's consistent style of writing throughout the book has helped readers compare different ideas and understand them systematically.
The Japanese translation team, including myself, was composed of researchers with a wide range of expertise in the humanities and social sciences such as pedagogy, psychology, anthropology, sociolinguistics, and communication studies. We regularly compared each other’s translated works to keep the sense of unity the original book has.
As you turn the pages, you will be impressed with the author’s extensive knowledge and insight, and will acquire a broader view of the theoretical basis of qualitative research. We hope that this book will be available to many students and researchers interested in conducting qualitative research in the humanities and social sciences.
(Written by MURAMOTO Yukiko, Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology / 2021)