Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences, 7.5 ECTS spring 2015

Aims and content

The objective of the course is to broaden participants' perspective on methodological issues in general and, in particular, on the considerations that relate to the choice of qualitative research methods. The course starts by identifying the key differences between the various methodological traditions. Participants' own academic backgrounds and experiences are used as a resource with which to enhance their awareness of methods and to promote reflection about more specific methodological considerations in their own doctoral research. In order to facilitate such reflection, relevant literature, lectures and seminar discussions will seek to strengthen course participants' preparations for their respective research projects.

The course will start by raising general issues about how research questions, methods and theory can affect research design. A number of central methodological problems will be introduced. Subsequently, the course will focus on three themes that are associated with different methodological traditions: case studies and their approach to causality; grounded theory; and methods inspired by anthropology.

The final part of the course will involve each participant writing a course paper, which will then be discussed in a final seminar. In this paper, course participants are encouraged to consider their own research and problematise it in relation to the perspectives and concepts that have been raised in the course.

Topics include:

  • What Use is a Study of a Single Case?
  • What Use are Narratives for Building Social-Science Theory?
  • Techniques of Text Analysis
  • Organizational Anthropology
  • Shadowing and Other Techniques
  • Conducting Research Interviews

Teaching form

The course consists of seminars held at Södertörn University and the composition of individually authored papers.


The course is examined through assessment of (1) active participation in obligatory seminars and (2) through an individually authored paper. The marks available are pass or fail.


Participants must have been accepted onto a doctoral programme. Note that the course cannot be counted as part of the doctoral programme if another course with fully or partly similar content has also be taken either in Sweden or abroad.


Registration is now closed. 

Reading List

Main course literature

You should consider buying these books.

 Blatter, J. and M. Haverland (2012), Designing Case Studies: Explanatory Approaches in Small-N Research (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), 280 pages.

Czarniawska, B. (2007), Shadowing and Other Techniques for Doing Fieldwork in Modern Societies (Malmö: Liber), 134 pages.

Holstein, J. and J.F. Gubrium (1995), The Active Interview (London: Sage), 96 pages.

Additional literature will be announced nearer the start of the course.

Teaching Staff

Nicholas Aylott is a senior lecturer in political science at Södertörn University. His main academic interest is in comparative European politics, with a special focus on Scandinavia, the Baltic states and, thematically, political parties. He is also interested in case-orientated methodology and empirical theory. Since 2012 he has been research leader in Södertörn's Centre for Baltic and East European Studies.

Kristina Boréus is professor of political science at Södertörn University and Stockholm University.  She has taught DA and related approaches for many years, arranged a number of international PhD courses on these methods and published a reader on DA and textual analysis.

Adrienne Sörbom is senior lecturer in sociology at Södertörn University. Her teaching is primarily focused on qualitative methods and tutoring at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her research interests concern politics in a broad sense – political commitments, social movements, political activism, political globalization, think tanks, and corporate politics. In 2013-2015 she is engaged in two research projects: on anarchism in the East and West, and on the World Economic Forum.

Karin Winroth is senior lecturer in business studies at Södertörn University. A focus of her research is the construction of identity – for example, how identity among professions shapes their professional role, their corporate culture and leadership within these organizations. In previous work, she has sought to illustrate how brands are integrated in various cultural situations.