Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 1: History of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing
Sidney J. Levy This chapter traces the history of qualitative research methods in marketing. These methods include a variety of techniques such as personal interviewing (sometimes designated as ‘open-ended’, ‘non-directive’, ‘depth’, ‘casual’ etc.); group or focus group interviewing, projective techniques, participant observation, ethnography, case studies, photography and story telling. Also the analysis of data, however gathered and even if they include measurement, may be characterized as a method that is ‘interpretive’, ‘subjective’, ‘hermeneutic’, ‘introspective’ or ‘post-modern’, indicating that it is a qualitative version, as is exempliﬁed by the variety of topics in this Handbook. In this history I have emphasized the early days of qualitative research lest they be lost to the memories of modern students who tend to focus attention on the recent decade of their ﬁeld. Historic roots of qualitative inquiry The ﬁeld of marketing became an academic discipline early in the twentieth century, but its practice and the gathering of intelligence about the market extend far back in time. There have always been explorers, scouts, runners, agents, representatives, salesmen, spies, tax gatherers, census takers, other government functionaries and so on, to provide word of the market. Even Joseph’s interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream in the Hebrew Bible led to a form of marketing planning for the storage and distribution of grain. Aristotle, Plato, Cicero and other ancients criticized merchants; and throughout history there have been ambivalent attitudes toward the consumption of goods and services. Qualitative analysis of consumption takes various forms because it interests scholars in...
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