American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 21-35

First online:

Asking, Witnessing, Interpreting, Knowing: Conducting Qualitative Research in Community Psychology

  • Catherine H. SteinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bowling Green State University Email author 
  • , Eric S. MankowskiAffiliated withPortland State University

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We present a framework to describe the process of conducting community-based qualitative research. Qualitative research activities are presented as a series of interrelated acts called asking, witnessing, interpreting, and knowing. Each act in the research process is described in terms of current qualitative research practices, and illustrated with examples from our own research projects on families with schizophrenia and men's mutual support and batterer intervention groups. We critically examine the assumption that qualitative research serves to reveal or amplify the voices of participants. We examine connections between qualitative research and social change and describe the use of qualitative research to not only empower marginalized groups, but also to critique and transform privileged groups. The framework is intended to help community researchers to more fully conceptualize, understand, and engage in the practice of qualitative research.

qualitative research methods and processes community research and action schizophrenia self-help groups batterer intervention groups