Shemmings, David, & Ingunn T. Ellingsen (2012). Using Q methodology in qualitative interviews. In Jaber F. Gubrium, James A. Holstein, Amir B. Marvasti, & Karyn D. McKinney (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft (2nd ed., pp. 415-426, Chapter 28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Summary: This is a capable summary of Q methodology that provides background context and outlines its main steps––identifying the concourse, developing the Q sample, defining the P set, administering the Q sort, and Q factor analysis and interpretation––with special emphasis on the administration of the Q sort and subsequent discussion as phases of a seamless interview process. The authors’ experience with foster children and their concern with understanding the concept of family (via a Q sample comprised of pictures) provides a problem focus. A number of potential criticisms are raised and responded to and Q’s compatibility with qualitative research while taking advantage of its quantitative features is emphasized.

David Shemmings <> is co-director of the Centre for Child Protection, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK. Ingunn T Ellingsen <> is in the Department of Social Studies, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, NO.

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