Pioneers of Qualitative Research
Article dated: 2 December 2009
This summer ESDS Qualidata launched its Pioneers of Qualitative Research web pages. Pioneers introduces and will provide access to a series of fascinating life history interviews conducted in the last ten years by the oral historian Paul Thompson with over twenty pioneering social researchers, including Peter Townsend, Ray Pahl and Dennis Marsden.
These interviews and the related sections of the web site provide insight into the lives, intellectual development, major influences and research projects of a set of innovative and influential social researchers from the 1960s to the 1980s. The views of the interviewees on the development of their methodological approaches over the course of their academic lives are of particular value. Freely available to access, these extracts from the interviews include: audio clips; background information on the pioneers, such as key publications; and the datasets available from the ESDS web site. The complete interview transcript and audio file are also available for download.
This project emerged from the initial goal of Qualidata (the forerunner of ESDS Qualidata), following its 1995 creation in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, to find surviving data from pioneering examples of social research. These classic studies, most less than fifty years old, were already disappearing. Qualidata was able to rescue a number of these studies and ensure that they were deposited at the UK Data Archive and other UK research archives. Among these classic pioneering studies are Dennis Marsden’s Mothers Alone (SN 5072) and Peter Townsend’s The Last Refugee (SN 4750), both discussed in detail in their interviews with Paul Thompson.