Qualitative Research

As an academic discipline, sociology began with religion at the forefront of its thematic concerns; the methodological attention was on qualitative research. It was Émile Durkheim in France, Germany’s Max Weber and Karl Marx, England’s Herbert Spencer, and other 19th-century European males who became sociology’s pioneers and conducted content analyses of historical and archival documents. Initially, these procedures became definitive for the new discipline’s methodological focus: studying society as an entity itself, including all of its conceptual components. Historical analysis of larger, societal issues was the qualitative investigative method used by these founders of the discipline. Harriet Martineau was the first, however, to clarify sociological methods (How to Observe Morals and Manners, 1838); her approach was indeed qualitative.

Durkheim also clarified sociological methods at the close ...

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