The qualitative approaches and their anticipatory function

Date of publication: June 15, 1986


How can future factors be detected by a qualitative approach? Two considerations flow from that question: 1. The emergence of new experiences and perceptions remains latent in large part for lack of concepts, of mental images, of words to define them clearly, to discuss them and to analyze them. It is then necessary to consider multiform procedures, i.e. to work on various levels in order to grasp them: - restitution of the group/social discourse by means of the group discussion technique; - restitution of the individual discourse by interview; - observation of behaviors and the environment. These approaches may or must then link up in the context of the same investigation in order dynamically to bring out the oppositions, the antagonisms and the synergies among the various levels of discourse and behavior. 2. The assumption underlying such an approach is that the diversity of sensitivities and behaviors has a meaning. True, "typical cases" do not sum up the entirety of the universe studied but we postulate that there are more general dimensions in each case, belonging to a global explanatory system. A sort of "evidence" of over-all reality is sought through individual reality. Beyond the anecdotal discussion of each case, there is a tendency to assign preference to analysis of the most "universal" factors, connecting to a more general system of values. The principle is to take the systematic aspect of reality into account.

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