Qualitative Methods in CSCW

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European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Qualitative methods like open or semi-structured interviews and participant observation, focus groups, design workshops, or cultural probes have been essential parts of many research and design projects in CSCW. Most of these methods have their origins in sociology, social sciences, and anthropology. In contrast to quantitative studies, the aim of qualitative empirical studies is not to test a theory or hypothesis but to openly explore and meet the complexity of cooperative and collaborative practices in the respective setting. Doing qualitative research in CSCW is exciting but time-consuming and demanding, especially if such methods have not been part of your academic curriculum. Since the Covid19 pandemic started, the basic premise for fieldwork “on the ground” has also been challenged. Over time, we had to adapt and expand our methodological spectrum with online interviews, cultural probes (Gaver et al. 2004), etc. This masterclass aims at imparting knowledge about qualitative methods, related frameworks such as ethnography (among others Randall et al., 2007; Hammersley and Atkinson, 2007) and Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), and explicitly diverse options for data collection, preparation, and data analysis. We will discuss a larger spectrum of possible methods and how to take one’s pick, depending on the respective research and design interest.