Main Approaches to Qualitative Methods (Epistemology and Methodology)



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

Qualitative methods generally feature:

  1. Interpretation of epistemological status of the observed reality;
  2. The relationship of the observed reality and the observer, understanding as a Wittgenstein's language game;
  3. Verify the results and reproducibility of the results (validity and reliability of qualitative research).

Denzin and Lincoln (2013), the moments of the qualitative research, so break up:

  1. traditional age: 1900-1950;
  2. modernist or "Golden Age”: 1950-1970;
  3. blurred genres: 1970-1986;
  4. the crisis of representation: 1986-1990;
  5. postmodern, experimental and new ethnographies: 1990-1995;
  6. postexperimental inquiry: 1995-2000;
  7. methodologically contested present: 2000-2010
  8. and a future that has already begun: 2010- emphasizing moral discourses and “sacred textualities”. In the qualitative psychological research in recent years the combined use of several methods and perspectives of the researchers are suggested.

Each age was characterized by one or more epistemological approaches and one or more methods and practice of interpretation.

  • Denzin N K and Lincoln Y S (ed)(2011): Handbook of qualitative research. 4th edition. Sage, Thousan Oak.
  • Willig C and Stainton-Rogers W (2013): The SAGE handbook of qualitative research in psychology. Sage, London.
  • László J (2008): The science of stories. An introduction to narrative psychology. Routledge, New York.