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A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research


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Table of Contents

Preface: The Value of Realism for Qualitative Research Acknowledgments About the Author Part I: A Realist Stance for Qualitative Research Chapter 1: What Is Realism, and Why Should Qualitative Researchers Care? Chapter 2: Meaning and Culture Are Real Chapter 3: Causation Is Real Chapter 4: Diversity Is Real Part II: Realism and Qualitative Methods Chapter 5: The Realities of Research Design Chapter 6: Research Relationships and Data Collection Chapter 7: Real and Virtual Relationships in Qualitative Data Analysis (with Barbara Miller) Chapter 8: Understanding, Validity, and Evidence Part III: Applications of Realism in Qualitative Research Chapter 9: Explaining Plains Indian Social Organization Chapter 10: Meaning and Diversity in Inuit Kinship and Culture Conclusion References Author Index Subject Index

About the Author

Joseph A. Maxwell is a professor (Emeritus) in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. His doctoral degree is in anthropology, but for the past 35 years, his research and teaching has been mainly in education, with an increasing focus on methodology. He is the author of Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach (3rd ed., 2013) and A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research (2012), as well as articles on qualitative and mixed methods research, Native American societies, and medical education. His current research deals with using qualitative methods for causal explanation, validity in qualitative and quantitative research, the history and breadth of mixed-methods research, the value of philosophic realism for research, and the importance of diversity and dialogue across research paradigms and methods.


"Maxwell's book is an outstanding accomplishment. He has connected a tremendous amount of past and present knowledge in it. His reading and integration cuts across multiple disciplines. I especially like the discussions of causation, `validity', and the methodological significance of viewing culture as distributed." -- Burke Johnson
"This book is well-written and clearly argued, and does a good job of connecting what are often arcane philosophical issues with the more practical concerns of carrying out qualitative research." -- Sam Porter
"The information presented is novel. It serves to advance current epistemological thinking in the area of qualitative research. It is the only book I'm aware of that links issues of epistemology and ontology so directly with qualitative methodologies." -- Marianna L. Litovich
This timely text could at last get us to the tipping point where realistapproaches enter the mainstream of qualitative research. They have gainedwidespread acceptance by philosophers but continue to be regarded withsuspicion by the dominant tribe of constructivist qualitative researchers. Maxwell provides a convincing case that realism helps to resolve many of theproblems they face without deserting cherished aspects of constructivism. -- Colin Robson

"This is a book that should be read by qualitative researchers at any stage of their career and by those critical of the qualitative and realist approach to social science, such is the manner in which Maxwell introduces, negotiates and analyses key issues in research methodology."

-- Robin J Smith * Qualitative Research *

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