Qualis? From theory to practice
Purpose ‐ The conventional distinction between quantitative and qualitative research is constructed around a familiar dichotomy. Within it, the former is construed as more "factual" and "objective" and it is contrasted with the more interpretative approaches of qualitative research. The latter, in this account, is enlisted to enhance understanding of the consumer even if it is considered inherently less reliable and less "valid" in nature. The purpose of this paper is to challenge this familiar distinction and propose a more fundamental one in its place. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Qualitative research is conventionally understood within a framework delineated by modern psychology. The task of qualitative research within this model is to understand the motivations of consumers and to provide explanations that are deeper and less "on the surface" than those elicited by quantitative methods. Such a perspective on qualitative research ignores the fact, however, that the distinctions which exist between the two methodologies are much more profound. We need to look at the underlying philosophical foundations of the two approaches and recognise that they can be distinguished at a more critical level. This paper will argue that they can be understood with much greater clarity in terms of how subjects and predicates are related to each other. Findings ‐ This reframing of the theoretical assumptions of qualitative research would lead, one might expect, to a radical reinterpretation of qualitative research. This paper goes on to demonstrate, however, that, paradoxically, this is not the case. What will be demonstrated is that some of the more important methodologies developed in qualitative research correspond precisely with the new theoretical model that is being put forward. As such, they tend to confirm the fundamental assumptions of the subject/predicate model proposed. Originality/value ‐ The value of this paper is to encourage greater theoretical perspective on the nature of qualitative research and its methodologies.
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