Surviving as a Qualitative Sociologist: Recollections from the Diary of a State Worker

Brownstein, Henry H.
June 1990
Qualitative Sociology;Summer90, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p149
Academic Journal
In this paper I describe my experience as a qualitative sociologist on the research staff of a government policymaking agency. Using specific examples from my experience, strategies for survival as a qualitative sociologist in a quantitatively-oriented setting are presented. It is proposed that: 1) qualitative methods need to be promoted as a credible and valuable approach to research and the individual researcher must "sell" him or herself as competent in the use of such methods; 2) social support networks with similarly inclined co-workers and sociologists outside of the workplace need to be developed and maintained and used to enhance the status of qualitative methods and qualitative sociologists; and 3) as is true for all researchers working in a policy making or applied setting, it is necessary to recognize the reticular nature of social research and to demonstrate how qualitative methods generate information that is useful to policy or other applied purposes. By application of this approach in my own workplace, qualitative research methods have become an acceptable and even desirable part of many research projects of the agency and I have been able to continue to practice and to maintain my identity as a qualitative sociologist.


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