Rosaline (Rose) Barbour, Professor of Health Care at the Open University (UK), is a medical sociologist, whose research career has covered a wide variety of topics located at the intersection of the clinical and the social. Her theoretical interests centre on the links between identity and agency, and social and cultural capital. Reflecting her conviction that qualitative research is a craft skill, Rose has developed an innovative series of ‘hands-on’ qualitative methods workshops and her most recent books – Doing Focus Groups (Sage, 2007/8 – Book 4 of the Sage Qualitative Methods Kit) and Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student Guide (first edition, 2008; second edition, 2014) bring together and share the expertise she has developed.


While there is no one definitive qualitative tradition, it is important to acknowledge that there is such a thing as ‘sub-optimal’ qualitative research. The case is therefore presented for thoughtful and thorough engagement throughout the research process, matching research questions with appropriate methods, thinking through rationales for choice of methods – whether these are ‘stand-alone’ or mixed methods, considering how best to facilitate research conversations (to encourage production of data that is ‘fit-for-purpose’, and anticipating the process of analysis itself (even as we design our studies and generate our data).

Taking a critical look at the well-rehearsed – but frequently over-stated division between positivist and inter-pretivist approaches – it contends that it is possible – even, perhaps, desirable – to work productively at this intersection, as advocated, for example, by Maxwell (2011) combining a realist ontology (in the form of thoughtful siting of studies and research design – especially sampling) with a constructivist epistemology (which acknowledges the socially-constructed and contested nature of ‘knowledge’ and ‘health-related behaviours’).

The presentation will also examine the potential afforded by different approaches to generating and analyzing qualitative data, suggesting how we might learn from the example of how familiar methods have been pressed into service by others, in fields as diverse as political science, media studies and cultural sociology.

Prof. Rose Barbour will give a short talk, based on her recently published book, ‘Introducing Quali-tative Research’, which will be followed by a question and answer session. Questions can be submitted to Sally Brown in advance, but there will also be plenty of opportunity for questions on the day.

Copies of Rose’s latest book, ‘Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student’s Guide’ will be available on the day at a discounted price.

As usual we will begin at 12 noon with sandwiches and coffee; please reply to Jude Walsh to confirm your attendance for catering purposes.


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