Swiss Summer School 2008

Véronique Mottier
Qualitative Data Analysis: Interpretive Research Strategies

Véronique Mottier

Veronique Mottier is part-time Professor in Sociology at the University of Lausanne, and part-time Director of Studies and Fellow in Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge, and BA and MA degrees from the University of Geneva. She has taught social theory, qualitative methodology, and discourse analysis at various institutions, including the Universities of Geneva, Cambridge, the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis and Collection, and the European Institute in Florence. Her research interests include interpretive methodologies; Foucauldian discourse & narrative analysis; politics of sexuality and gender; modernity, 'race', and identity politics. She has published widely in these areas, and her most recent book is Sexuality: A very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008)(for full list of publications, see:

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)