The future of qualitative research

Date of publication: December 1, 1995


This paper sets forward proposals for enhancing the International standing and reputation of Qualitative Research by establishing an International Body specifically to serve the needs and interests of Qualitative Researchers worldwide. Our argument, in brief, is as follows: A paradigm shift is taking place in Business, Marketing, Social and Political decision - making, and the Social Sciences generally, which is placing new demands on Research. Qualitative Research is now widely used in local markets and internationally, and is increasingly influential in modem marketing and social policy-making. Its methodologies, analytic tools and philosophy however, are different from those of quantitative or survey research which traditionally has provided the guidelines for the Market Research Industry as a whole. In addition, Qualitative Research practices are variable or patchy. There is therefore a case for raising Professional Standards and establishing internationally recognised principles, within the essential freedoms which are characteristic of Qualitative Research. We include specific proposals for clarifying the domain of Qualitative Research, raising its theoretical and applied standing, and improving its basic Professionalism or hygiene factors. We raise these proposals at this ESOMAR Seminar because of the Qualitative Mission themes being discussed. In our view it is desirable to encourage this widening of perspectives since it will add vigour to the industry, and the theory and practice of Qualitative Research.

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