Efforts to reconstruct the reality of a social scene have evolved numerous theoretical and methodological strategies. Qualitative sociology fills the gap in existing literature by providing a comprehensive and detailed treatment of the broad range of non-quantitative methods currently being used in sociological research, with the conceptual rationales for each method.
Recognizing the need for a clear, concise discussion of both the theoretical and practical aspects of "reality reconstruction" and "formal sociology," Drs. Schwartz and Jacobs draw on the theories and strategies of Weber, Mead, Blumer, Glaser, Straus, Simmel, Goffman, Schutz, Garfinkel, and Cicourel, among others, to justify, explain, and illustrate:
participant observation (ethnography)
life histories and personal accounts
the analysis of unobtrusive measures
methods of studying and subjectivity
Thus, the authors not only describe the various theories and methods, but they add to the reader's understanding by providing insight into who has used the methods and why, and by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each method. They also supplement the text throughout with a collection of case studies which illustrate the kind of substantive work qualitative research can produce.
No other available text covers as many methods as are described in Qualitative Sociology. All the methods are examined in an informal, conversational style, making the discussion accessible to the student with no previous knowledge of qualitative theories and practices.