Message to the Youth

Howie Becker‘s revolutionary (hopefully) clarification on how the sciences in general, social sciences in particular and qualitative social sciences more precisely do function (initially available here as a reaction to Michèle Lamont and Patricia White‘s NSF report on “systematic” qualitative research) is now fully quotable as:

Becker, Howard S. (2009), “How to Find Out How to Do Qualitative Research”, International Journal of Communication, vol. 3, pp. 545-553.


  1. 1 ANTHEM » Blog Archive » Becker on qualitative research

    […] Test Society gathers the key links for this important debate on the nature of qualitative research vis-a-vis the funding criteria of the National Science Foundation, the US federal funding agency for scientific research. Howard S. Becker makes an important intervention here in defence of qualitative research methods. What is incredible, at least from looking at this from Europe, is that this debate has to take place at all in the first decade of the 21st century. But by all indications, the argument for qualitative research is far from being won in the Western world. Here are some key quotes from Becker’s piece: Many more of the papers, however, repeat the message delivered by Lamont and White in the 15-page executive summary and short introduction, which might be summarized as “Quit whining and learn to do real science by stating theoretically derived, testable hypotheses, with methods of data gathering and analysis specified before entering the field. Then you’ll get NSF grants like the real scientists do.” Less contentiously, you could say that the report recommends an unnuanced and incomplete version of the King, Keohane, and Verba Designing Social Inquiry (1994) message: Start out with clear, theoretically anchored hypotheses, pick a sample that will let you test those ideas, and use a pre-specified method of systematic analysis to see if they are right. (546) […]

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