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Jonathan Potter & Chloe Shaw

In: The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection

Chapter 12: The Virtues of Naturalistic Data

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The Virtues of Naturalistic Data
The Virtues of Naturalistic Data
Jonathan PotterChloe Shaw

This chapter focuses on the reasons for working with naturalistic data. That is, it starts with an interest in life as it happens as far as possible independent of the researcher's constructions, practices, and interventions. Naturalistic data is in contrast to elicited data in qualitative social science; naturalistic rather than natural, to flag epistemic cautions that will be developed below. The chapter (a) suggests examples from the history of the use of naturalistic materials across the sciences and notes the limited presence of naturalistic materials in social sciences; (b) describes the test through which the two kinds of data can be distinguished and offers reasons for working with the more epistemically cautious notion ...

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