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Qualitative Social Research

Qualitative social research methods aim to gather primary in-depth data.  Information can be gathered using a variety of methods ranging from structured or semi-structured interviews and surveys, to overt and covert participant observation.  This broad method is typically used within the realms of  social investigation and anthropology.

Qualitative social research methods can enable us to gain an understanding of behaviour at a personal and in-depth level.  By using face-to-face or direct contact techniques we can answer questions regarding, choice, motivation, habit, and consumption.

Qualitative social research methods are often considered to be rich and diverse and can produce unexpected outcomes.  Data analysis considers the frequency of themes within verbatim responses as well as clusters amongst close-ended questioning.

Face-to-face interviews

Our research team are experienced in face-to-face techniques and strictly adhere to the MRS (Market Research Society) code of conduct.  Face-to-face interviewing as a method of personally administering questionnaires has significant advantages as well as some disadvantages. At Mackman Research we are experts in interviewing and working with people from high demand, sensitive or even marginalised groups.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are valuable in the early stages of qualitative social research and are useful when investigating why people do things.  Focus groups help you to connect with your target group, so you can become more aware of what is going on with your populace, their motivations and attitudes. Focus groups will help you in developing or testing solutions and strategies and is an ideal exploratory technique because of the freedom and interaction inherent in a group situation.

Participant observation

Participant Observation is a research strategy that involves getting close to people.  It requires the social researcher to make the participants feel comfortable enough in their presence in order that observations are recorded about their lives.  Participant observation is a highly in-depth method of gathering data that requires great skill on the part of the social researcher.  Being a participant observer has the advantage of enabling the social researcher access to activities and first hand experience of events. Participant observation also allows more time to be spent with subjects so that a greater volume of data can be collected.

Life stories & life changing events

To record a life history or to evaluate the effects or experience of a life changing event a social researcher must spend a considerable amount of time with the subject or participant.  As with all face-to-face methods, rapport needs to be established early on in the interview process so that the participant feels comfortable in the researchers presence and is happy to speak and recall events.  Life stories and life changing events are usually recorded over a number of interviews.

If you have a requirement for qualitative social research, please contact us for an informal discussion, quotation or formal tender.