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A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research

A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research

November 2011 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This ground-breaking book makes the case for employing a realist philosophical perspective in qualitative research. Joseph Maxwell argues for critically applying a realist ontology to a number of important theoretical and methodological issues. The book outlines critical realism and considers its implications for how we conceptualize meaning and culture, causation, and diversity. The author applies critical realist ideas and approaches to the design and methods of qualitative research, and presents two in-depth case studies of projects he conducted, describing how realist (and other) perspectives informed the research, the methods, and the conclusions.

"Maxwell's book is an outstanding accomplishment. He has connected a tremendous amount of past and present knowledge in it. I especially like the discussions of causation, 'validity', and the methodological significance of viewing culture as distributed." - Burke Johnson, University of South Alabama

"This  timely text could at last get us to the tipping point where realistapproaches enter the mainstream of qualitative research. They have gainedwidespread acceptance by philosophers  but continue to be regarded withsuspicion by the dominant tribe of constructivist qualitative researchers. Maxwell provides a convincing case that realism helps to resolve many of theproblems they face without deserting cherished aspects of constructivism." -
Colin Robson, emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Huddersfield

"This is the only book that I'm aware of that links issues of epistemology and ontology so directly with qualitative methodologies."- Marianna L. Litovich, Wesleyan University

Preface: The Value of Realism for Qualitative Research
About the Author
Part I: A Realist Stance for Qualitative Research
Chapter 1: What Is Realism, and Why Should Qualitative Researchers Care?
Chapter 2: Meaning and Culture Are Real
Chapter 3: Causation Is Real
Chapter 4: Diversity Is Real
Part II: Realism and Qualitative Methods
Chapter 5: The Realities of Research Design
Chapter 6: Research Relationships and Data Collection
Chapter 7: Real and Virtual Relationships in Qualitative Data Analysis (with Barbara Miller)
Chapter 8: Understanding, Validity, and Evidence
Part III: Applications of Realism in Qualitative Research
Chapter 9: Explaining Plains Indian Social Organization
Chapter 10: Meaning and Diversity in Inuit Kinship and Culture
Author Index
Subject Index

A sophisticated and nuanced text this is an important and helpful book

Mr Robin Sen
Department of Sociological Studies, Sheffield University
July 15, 2019

This is an excellent book, we would rather use it for a research focused course which we currently do not have. We will consider this text if we can add a course specifically for research.

Professor Teresa Stuffer
Education Dept, Great Basin Clg-Elko
April 22, 2016

This is a really strong and thought provoking book. It challenges some basic assumptions of everyday research but also of core concepts such as culture or causation.

Mr Noel Clycq
Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp
April 1, 2015

A very useful text for those interested in developing a deeper understanding of the realist approach to research.

Mr Lee Sobo-Allen
School of Healthcare, Leeds University
December 11, 2014

I already had Joseph’s Maxwell’s Qualitative Research Design and was expecting some overlap – which there was but this is inevitable. The focus on critical realism was a useful adjunct for my own research and I would have no hesitation in recommending this to students also interested in taking a critical realism approach to qualitative research projects. If they already had some experience of Qualitative design I’d say go straight for this one. It stands well on its own.

Ms Sue Watling
Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln
August 10, 2014

This is an excellent introduction to qualitative data analysis from a critical realist perspective. It might be slightly above the level of some students undertaking Masters level dissertations, but it is certainly an excellent resource for PhD students thinking of utilising the critical realist approach.

Mr Michael Roy
Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University
February 25, 2014

Didn't fit with course objectives but I am referring some students to it as a supplementary text.

Dr Deborah O'Connor
Social Work, Univ of British Columbia
November 12, 2013

This is an excellent text for research students who are using this methodology or want to read further around this type of qualitative method

Dr Lyvonne Tume
School of Nursing and Caring Sciences, University of Central Lancashire
October 10, 2013

I didn't find the author's central thesis all that helpful.

Dr Rich Starcher
Sch Of Intercultural Stds Dept, Biola University
October 3, 2013

The text provided a clear account of the critical realist approach that I found very accessible.

Mr Brian Critchley
LMBS, London Metropolitan Uni (North Campus)
October 3, 2013
Key features

Key Features

  • Presents new ways of thinking about some largely taken-for-granted issues in qualitative research, involving innovative rethinking of key concepts such as culture, diversity, causality, and validity
  • Systematically applies realist ideas to key areas of qualitative theory and methods, including research design, data collection, analysis, and assessing alternative interpretations
  • Provides in-depth case studies of actual applications of realism in qualitative research, offering firsthand demonstrations of its advantages

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ISBN: 9780761929239