A Realistic Approach for Quality Research

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Are cultural and material phenomena equally real? How can one study the relationships between cultural constructions, social behavior and material conditions and draw a valid conclusion from the data? In contrast to interpretive or constructivist positions, realism supports the insights of critical theory in social and educational research regarding the relationships between actors' perspectives and their actual situations, while avoiding the epistemological objectivism associated with positivism and some forms of post- positivist empiricism. This book will explain how readers can use realism to conceptualize and conduct their qualitative study to get results with greater validity.

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Editorial Reviews

Burke Johnson
Maxwell's book is an outstanding accomplishment. He has connected a tremendous amount of past and present knowledge in it. His reading and integration cuts across multiple disciplines. I especially like the discussions of causation, ‘validity’, and the methodological significance of viewing culture as distributed."
Sam Porter
“This book is well-written and clearly argued, and does a good job of connecting what are often arcane philosophical issues with the more practical concerns of carrying out qualitative research.”
Marianna L. Litovich
“The information presented is novel. It serves to advance current epistemological thinking in the area of qualitative research. It is the only book I’m aware of that links issues of epistemology and ontology so directly with qualitative methodologies.”
Colin Robson
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.
Qualitative Research - Robin J Smith

"This is a book that should be read by qualitative researchers at any stage of their career and by those critical of the qualitative and realist approach to social science, such is the manner in which Maxwell introduces, negotiates and analyses key issues in research methodology."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761929239
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph A. Maxwell is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University, where he teaches courses on research design and methods and on writing a dissertation proposal. He has published work on qualitative research and evaluation, mixed method research, sociocultural theory, Native American social organization, and medical education. He has also worked extensively in applied settings. He has presented seminars and workshops on teaching qualitative research methods and on using qualitative methods in various applied fields, and has been an invited speaker at conferences and universities in the United States, Puerto Rico, Europe, and China. He has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Preface: The Value of Realism for Qualitative Research vii

Acknowledgments x

About the Author xiii

Part I A Realist Stance for Qualitative Research l

Chapter 1 What Is Realism, and Why Should Qualitative Researchers Care? 3

Chapter 2 Meaning and Culture Are Real 15

Chapter 3 Causation Is Real 33

Chapter 4 Diversity Is Real 49

Part II Realism and Qualitative Methods 69

Chapter 5 The Realities of Research Design 71

Chapter 6 Research Relationships and Data Collection 93

Chapter 7 Real and Virtual Relationships in Qualitative Data Analysis (with Barbara Miller) 109

Chapter 8 Understanding, Validity, and Evidence 127

Part III Applications of Realism in Qualitative Research 149

Chapter 9 Explaining Plains Indian Social Organization 151

Chapter 10 Meaning and Diversity in Inuit Kinship and Culture 155

Conclusion 181

References 183

Author Index 205

Subject Index 211

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