Herbert Blumer and qualitative method

Hammersley, Martyn (1990). Herbert Blumer and qualitative method. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 3(1) pp. 31–36.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0951839900030103


Herbert Blumer's work provides a powerful rationale for qualitative methodology. Early in his career Blumer recognized a dilemma in social research. On the one hand, a scientific approach may be essential to understand and control human events. On the other, such an approach may not adequately capture the meanings of social action. Blumer did not believe that increasingly intricate applications of statistical method would help social scientists understand how people interpret the situations they face and how they construct actions. Drawing on the work of fellow Chicagoans, Blumer applied a naturalistic approach to the questions of social science. This article examines Blumer's naturalistic method and asks if it deals successfully with the dilemma that he identified at the start of his career.

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