Qualitative research: meanings or practices?
Author: Silverman, D.
Source: Information Systems Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, January 1998 , pp. 3-20(18)
Abstract:With information systems (IS), as in other social sciences, the critique of quantitative research can lead to an oversimplified opposition between ‘positivism’ and ‘interpretivism’. This is one reason why qualitative IS research sometimes unnecessarily limits itself to the study of participants' meanings. A simple tabulation of published qualitative research is used to reveal the predominance of interview-based studies in both sociology and IS. This is followed by a brief account of the limits of both quantitative studies of ‘objective’ variables and qualitative studies of ‘subjective meanings’. The emerging case for IS research on organizational practices is set out, coupled with an account of Suchman's (1987) study of how workers make use of a computer-based system attached to a photocopier. The paper concludes with a call for an end to paradigm wars in organizational studies.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Goldsmiths' College, University of London, UK, Email:D.Silverman@gold.ac.uk
Publication date: 1998-01-01