Handbook of Emergent Methods

Edited by Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy

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February 22, 2008
ISBN 9781593851477
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740 Pages
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Social researchers increasingly find themselves looking beyond conventional methods to address complex research questions. This is the first book to comprehensively examine emergent qualitative and quantitative theories and methods across the social and behavioral sciences. Providing scholars and students with a way to retool their research choices, the volume presents cutting-edge approaches to data collection, analysis, and representation. Leading researchers describe alternative uses of traditional quantitative and qualitative tools; innovative hybrid or mixed methods; and new techniques facilitated by technological advances. Consistently formatted chapters explore the strengths and limitations of each method for studying different types of research questions and offer practical, in-depth examples.

“Hesse-Biber and Leavy present a comprehensive overview of emergent research issues as well as potentially powerful innovations in research processes and methods practices in the social and behavioral sciences. The Handbook is designed to both encourage established researchers to explore new research tools and lenses and thereby enrich their practices, and to inform graduate students as they design studies to answer their research questions. The Handbook's authors do an admirable job of locating the reader inside an exciting world of novel and cutting-edge research methods, guided by theory and research, and presented by scholars representing a wide range of disciplines. The text is suitable for graduate-level methods courses in education, psychology, the humanities, and health service fields....The major strengths of the Handbook are its accessibility, organization, and comprehensiveness. Hesse-Biber and Leavy have written skillfully in their articulate, clear introductions to the overall text and each of the three sections. The chapters in the three sections are logically presented, enabling the reader to quickly and clearly discern the major topic areas. The comprehensiveness of the sections is impressive as they draw upon a diverse array of scholars, representing many social science disciplines. The chapter authors have succeeded, too, in making each chapter consistently accessible to the typical graduate student. These authors lead the reader through sensible, contextually embedded discussions of theoretical and practical issues pertaining to emergent research methods and practice....[It] makes an important contribution to social science and behavioral research because of its organization, readability, comprehensiveness, and usefulness to both accomplished researchers and graduate students.”

Journal of Mixed Methods Research

“The book's philosophic orientation toward the perspective of a researcher attempting to solve a conundrum facing him or her in human science research closely mirrors the research demands that confront the health science professional....Will be of interest to health science researchers who position themselves on the research landscape between qualitative and quantitative research and who understand the history of the research methods they are using.”

Qualitative Health Research

“Offers a panoramic view.”

Qualitative Sociology Review

“This book covers a wide range of methods, which are described and discussed by an interdisciplinary (i.e., anthropology, communication, criminal justice, education, geography, human development, psychology, social work, sociology) group of authors, who provide interesting examples of how they use these methods in work....Sharlene Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy have assembled a very interesting set of chapters, and even experienced researchers will find much to learn about emergent methods and much to consider about how they might use these in their own work....Should be accessible to upper level students. Readers of might want to order a copy of the Handbook of Emergent Methods for their university libraries and consider adding some chapters to their syllabi.”

Sex Roles

“Makes a real contribution to the researcher’s toolbox....The quality of the chapters is outstanding and the editors’ introductions to the sections are very helpful....Appropriate for graduate-level methods courses and useful to researchers, both experienced and beginning....Highly recommended. Graduate students through faculty and professionals.”


“One important handbook that has the power to encourage educational researchers to breakdown archaic boundaries and try something different….Offers readers a wealth of resources distributed across numerous, concisely written introductory chapters.”

British Educational Research Journal

“A 'must read' for anyone interested in remaining current with developing research techniques. The book provides a wealth of information regarding innovative approaches that will permit the investigation of novel research questions.”

—Larry Christensen, Chair, Department of Psychology, University of South Alabama

“In the rapidly changing domain of qualitative methods, this comprehensive handbook places qualitative inquiry in context and provides a much-needed, in-depth view of the latest developments. The book describes the 'roots' of the major qualitative methods and how they are developing, outlines innovations in research design and analysis, and explores the impact that these developments are having on methods per se. Hesse-Biber and Leavy are to be congratulated for bringing together leaders in the field to create this seminal work, which will have a profound impact on qualitative methods.”

—Janice M. Morse, Professor and Barnes Presidential Endowed Chair, College of Nursing, University of Utah

“Methods determine not only how we see, but also what we can see. This comprehensive handbook details creative new approaches to asking and exploring questions within the social sciences. These approaches offer liberation from the narrowing straits of logical positivistic measurement and quantification, and chart the paths to addressing more socially meaningful questions. They provide means for examining social reality with fresh tools. The range of chapters on different emergent methods will be enlightening to both new and experienced researchers.”

—Ruthellen Josselson, School of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University

“With contributions from both emerging and established methodological scholars, this innovative, engaging work articulates a view of research less as a linear series of stages than as an unfolding and evolving process. This orientation is in tune with changes in theoretical underpinnings of research that underline many contemporary methodological approaches, including participatory, feminist, and other inclusive approaches. Readers are offered fodder for beginning to think outside of the traditional methodological box and for revitalizing such methods as focus group interviewing and oral history. This book will be of value to both novice and more well-established investigators who wish to pursue their research endeavors more flexibly, reflectively, and inclusively.”

—Bruce L. Berg, Department of Criminal Justice, California State University, Long Beach

“Hesse-Biber and Leavy's timely and constructive response to the collapse of disciplinary authority and the postmodern challenge in the social sciences does not take an 'anything goes' position. The editors and their collaborators argue for a principled and rational approach to orchestrating research that welcomes and evaluates a bewildering array of emergent methods in the social sciences. This handbook both provides invaluable, specific guidance to researchers and frames the notion of methodological emergence as a theoretical challenge in its own right.”

—Davydd J. Greenwood, Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

“This is a powerful and valuable work for anyone involved in social science research. Hesse-Biber and Leavy have called together many experienced writers in qualitative methods to explore the emergent methods so critical to the current time. Whether deconstructing document research, arts-based approaches, or historical methods, or extending our understanding of interviewing, performance ethnography, and participatory approaches, all of the chapters provide greater clarity about how we do what we do in the qualitative research community. If their goals were to illuminate, transform, and inspire, these editors and contributors have certainly hit their mark. This book is a gift to both students and teachers of emergent methods.”

—Valerie J. Janesick, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of South Florida

Table of Contents

Introduction: Pushing on the Methodological Boundaries—The Growing Need for Emergent Methods within and across the Disciplines, Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy

I. Historical Context of Emergent Methods and Innovation in the Practice of Research Methods

Introduction to Part I, Patricia Leavy and Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber


1. History of Methods in Social Science Research, Karen M. Staller, Ellen Block, and Pilar S. Horner

2. Gender Inclusion, Contextual Values, and Strong Objectivity: Emergent Feminist Methods for Research in the Sciences, Sue V. Rosser

3. A Post-Newtonian, Postmodern Approach to Science: New Methods in Social Action Research, Lisa Cosgrove and Maureen McHugh

4. Emergence in and from Quasi-Experimental Design and Analysis, Melvin M. Mark

Document Research

5. Researching Documents: Emergent Methods, Lindsay Prior

6. Emergent Qualitative Document Analysis, David Altheide, Michael Coyle, Katie DeVriese, and Christopher Schneider

Grounded Theory

7. Grounded Theory as an Emergent Method, Kathy Charmaz


8. New Frontiers in Standardized Survey Interviewing, Frederick G. Conrad and Michael F. Schober

9. Emergent Approaches to Focus Group Research, David Morgan, Collin Fellows, and Heather Guevara

10. Emergent Issues in International Focus Group Discussions, Monique M. Hennink

11. Three Dimensions and More: Oral History Beyond the Paradoxes of Method, Michael Frisch


12. Narrative Ethnography, Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein

13. Public Ethnography, Carol A. Bailey

14. Emergent Methods in Autoethnographic Research: Autoethnographic Narrative and the Multiethnographic Turn, Christine S. Davis and Carolyn Ellis

15. New Critical Collaborative Ethnography, Himika Bhattacharya

Arts-Based Practice

16. Visual Research Methods: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?, Gunilla Holm

17. Performance-Based Emergent Methods, Patricia Leavy

II. Innovations in Research Methods Design and Analysis

Introduction to Part II, Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber

18. Mixing Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches: An Introduction to Emergent Mixed Methods Research, Vicki L. Plano Clark, John W. Creswell, Denise O'Neil Green, and Ronald J. Shope

19. Emergent Techniques in the Gathering and Analysis of Mixed Methods Data, Charles Teddlie, Abbas Tashakkori, and Burke Johnson

20. Data Analysis and Interpretation: Emergent Issues in Linking Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence, Sarah Irwin

21. Longitudinal Research: An Emergent Method in the Social Sciences, Elisabetta Ruspini

22. Categorizing and Connecting Strategies in Qualitative Data Analysis, Joseph A. Maxwell and Barbara A. Miller

23. Metaphor Analysis, Zazie Todd and Simon J. Harrison

24. Hearing Voices: Listening for Multiplicity and Movement in Interview Data, Lynn Sorsoli and Deborah L. Tolman

III. The Impact of Emergent Technologies on Research Methods

Introduction to Part III, Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber

25. Internet Research as Emergent Practice, Christine Hine

26. Internet-Mediated Research as an Emergent Method and Its Potential Role in Facilitating Mixed Methods Research, Claire Hewson

27. Hypermedia Methods for Qualitative Research, Bella Dicks & Bruce Mason

28. Mixed Emotions, Mixed Methods: The Role of Emergent Technologies in Studying User Experience in Context, Ingrid Mulder and Joke Kort

29. Emergent Methods in Feminist Geography, Mei-Po Kwan

30. Neural Networks an Emergent Method in Quantitative Research: An Example of Self-Organizing Maps, Natalia Sarkisian

31. User-Centered Perspectives on Qualitative Data Analysis Software: The Impact of Emergent Technologies and Future Trends, Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber and Christine Crofts

32. The Role of Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis: Impact on Emergent Methods in Qualitative Research, Nigel Fielding

About the Editors

Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber is Professor of Sociology and Director of Women’s Studies at Boston College. She is also the founder and former Executive Director of the National Association for Women in Catholic Higher Education. She has published widely on the impact of sociocultural factors on women’s body image, as well as on feminist and qualitative research methods. She is codeveloper of the software program HyperRESEARCH, a computer-assisted program for analyzing qualitative data, and of the new transcription tool HyperTRANSCRIBE. Her article "Qualitative Approaches to Mixed Methods Practice" was the most downloaded article of 2010 in the journal Qualitative Inquiry.

Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an independent sociologist and former Chair of Sociology and Criminology and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. She is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 30 books, and the creator and editor of 10 book series. Known for her commitment to public scholarship, she is frequently contacted by the U.S. national news media and has blogged for The Huffington Post, The Creativity Post, and We Are the Real Deal. She is also co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Art/Research International. Dr. Leavy has received numerous awards for her work in the field of research methods, including the Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award from the National Art Education Association, the New England Sociologist of the Year Award from the New England Sociological Association, the Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association, the Egon Guba Memorial Keynote Lecture Award from the American Educational Research Association Qualitative Special Interest Group, and the Special Career Award from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. In 2016, Mogul, a global women’s empowerment platform, named her an “Influencer.” The School of Fine and Performing Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz has established the Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice in her honor. Dr. Leavy delivers invited lectures and keynote addresses at universities and conferences. Her website is www.patricialeavy.com.


David Altheide, School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Carol Bailey, Department of Sociology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Himika Bhattacharya, Institute of Communications Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois

Ellen Block, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Kathy Charmaz, Department of Sociology, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California

Frederick G. Conrad, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lisa Cosgrove, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts

Michael Coyle, Department of Political Science, California State University, Chico, California

John W. Creswell, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

Christine Crofts, Department of Sociology, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts

Christine S. Davis, Department of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina

Katie DeVriese, School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Bella Dicks, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Carolyn Ellis, Department of Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Collin Fellows, Department of Sociology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Nigel Fielding, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Surrey, United Kingdom

Michael Frisch, Department of History and American Studies, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York

Denise O'Neil Green, Office for Institutional Diversity, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Jaber F. Gubrium, Department of Sociology, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

Heather Guevara, Department of Sociology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Simon J. Harrison, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Monique M. Hennink, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber, Department of Sociology, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts

Claire Hewson, Department of Psychology, Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

Christine Hine, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Surrey, United Kingdom

Gunilla Holm, Department of Education, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

James A. Holstein, Department of Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Pilar S. Horner, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Sarah Irwin, Department of Sociology, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Burke Johnson, Department of Professional Studies, College of Education, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama

Joke Kort, TNO Information and Communication Technology, Groningen, The Netherlands

Mei-Po Kwan, Department of Geography, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Patricia Leavy, Department of Sociology, Stonehill College, Easton, Massachusetts

Melvin M. Mark, Department of Psychology, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Bruce Mason, Institute for Creative Technologies, De Montfor University, Leicester, United Kingdom

Joseph A. Maxwell, Graduate School of Education, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Maureen McHugh, Department of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania

Barbara A. Miller, Center for Leadership and Learning Communities, Education Development Center, Newton, Massachusetts

David Morgan, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

Ingrid Mulder, Institute for Communication, Media, and Information Technology, Rotterdam University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Telematica Institute, Enschede, The Netherlands

Vicki L. Plano Clark, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

Lindsay Prior, School of Sociology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Ireland, United Kingdom

Sue V. Rosser, School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia

Elisabetta Ruspini, Department of Sociology, University of Milan-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Natalia Sarkisian, Department of Sociology, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts

Christopher Schneider, School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Michael F. Schober, Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research, New York, New York

Ronald J. Shope, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

Lynn Sorsoli, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco, California

Karen M. Staller, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Abbas Tashakkori, College of Education, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

Charles Teddlie, College of Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Zazie Todd, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Deborah L. Tolman, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, and Human Sexuality Studies Program, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

Course Use

May serve as a text in graduate-level research methods courses.