Q methodology

Stenner, Paul and Capdevila, Rose (2019). Q methodology. In: Atkinson, P.; Cernat, A.; Delamont, S. and Williams, R. eds. Sage Research Methods Foundations. Sage.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526421036842863


Q methodology is an empirical approach designed as a means to study subjective aspects of social concerns and, often, to identify potential solutions. It has origins in psychology but has been applied widely in many disciplines, from geography to nursing, politics and environmental studies, but has been especially popular in the health sciences. It is able to ascertain - in rich detail - the different perspectives that can be expressed about a particular topic. The subject matter can vary enormously but in each case the Q methodologist will be interested in capturing subjectivity: whatever the subject matter at issue, there will be different subjective perspectives on it. This contribution uses a simplified study of values to provide an overview of Q methodology in terms of seven simple steps, from the formulation of an appropriate research question to the interpretation of the resulting F set. These steps are then revisited to provide an overview of some of the key issues within the Q methodological literature.

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