Researching family relationships: a qualitative mixed methods approach

Gabb, Jacqui (2009). Researching family relationships: a qualitative mixed methods approach. Methodological Innovations Online, 4(2) pp. 37–52.



Research has demonstrated how families are constituted through everyday practices of care and emotional investment. In this article I suggest that a qualitative mixed methods approach can add another dimension to sociological understandings of these processes. The integration of different qualitative methods produces a dynamic account of everyday family relationships and experiences of intimacy. It shows how the biographical, experiential and social are interwoven, enabling the fabric of family relationships to be unpicked. Drawing on original data from empirical research, I outline the kinds of material produced by different methods and the usefulness of creativity in research design, including innovative methods such as the emotion map and psychosocial approaches to research. Through case study analysis, I demonstrate how the mixing of methods generates multilayered, richly textured information on family relationships but I caution against tidying up all the empirical loose ends. I suggest that there is analytical benefit in retaining some of the 'messiness' that comprises connected lives.

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