Session 22

E3 Multi-Method Approaches in Interpretive Empirical Research on Relations between Established and Outsider Groupings

Approaches that focus on the reconstruction of individual and collective patterns of interpretation of social phenomena – so-called ‘subjective’ experiences – have gained increasing attention in the social sciences and other disciplines in recent decades. This ‘interpretive turn’ has led to the development of different methods and methodological approaches that focus on reconstructing the diverse ways in which individuals, their families, and the groupings they belong to, perceive social phenomena. When conducting biographical research, it is essential to combine different data, methods and theoretical perspectives, including analysis of discourses, images, group discussions and documents – to name just a few – in order to develop a process-oriented sociology which takes into account the collective history and regional context of the persons or groupings concerned. With this in mind, we will focus in this session on the ways in which qualitative and interpretive methods can be combined to study the power inequalities that shape the lives of people who belong to groupings of established and outsiders in different parts of the world. More precisely, we will ask: Which historical and geographic contexts require which combination of methods? What are the challenges and limitations that emerge in the use of these methods? How can multi-method approaches help us to assess the degree of openness of methods and methodological approaches to ‘local’ knowledge? In particular, in what ways is multi-method biographical research challenged by different historical and geographical contexts? We invite colleagues with experience in combining different interpretive approaches to discuss such combinations in the context of concrete empirical projects.