Swiss Summer School 2002

Véronique Mottier
Qualitative Data Analysis: Interpretive Research Strategies

Véronique Mottier

Véronique Mottier is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge. She holds a Phd from the University of Cambridge and has previously taught qualitative methodology courses at the Universities of Geneva, Teeside and Loughborough (UK). She also teaches in the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis and Collection. Her published work has appeared in Economy and Society, West European Politics, and other journals. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Swiss Journal of Sociology, and Associate Editor of Feminist Theory. Her research interests include: (Methodology) interpretive methodologies; Foucauldian discourse analysis & narrative analysis; (Substantive) the politics of sexuality; sociology of sex and Aids; gender and direct democracy.

Workshop contents and objectives

The aim of this workshop is to explore the use of interpretive research strategies in social science research. Broadly, interpretive methodologies are grounded in a social constructionist perspective on social life. They remind social scientists of the constructed nature of the social 'facts' that are studied, and analyse the constructions of meanings and identities through which individuals as well as groups or organisations make sense of their everyday lives and interactions, their social, organisational and political environments, etc.

The workshop will (1) focus on a number of different, though related, interpretive perspectives such as interactionnism, ethnomethodology and hermeneutics, and examine how these perspectives translate into specific research questions and frameworks and (2) explore the use of interpretive techniques of analysis of textual data (which can include written texts as well as interview data), with a specific focus on discourse & narrative analysis.

Although the lectures and readings will cover issues such as validity and reliability within interpretive perspectives, the main emphasis of the workshop is on practical applications of interpretive research methods through daily exercises. The participants are welcome to bring their own data to the Summer School if they wish to do so, and will have a chance to discuss and work on their own research during the course.


Basic text/overview
Denzin, N. & Y. Lincoln (Eds.)(1994) Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Silverman, D. (1993) Interpreting Qualitative Data. Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction. London: Sage.

Fairclough, N. (1992) Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.


No particular prerequisites are needed for this course, but it is strongly recommended to do some preparatory readings (see bibliography for suggestions)