Famously, Ebbinghaus declared that psychology has a long past, but only a short history. Psychology, as something implicit to human conduct, is as old as the human race, but the science, as an explicit investigative reflection upon that conduct, is a recent invention. Within the short history of psychology, we find an even shorter history of qualitative psychology specifically. Although most founding fathers (Freud, Piaget, Bartlett etc.) worked as “qualitative psychologists”, they found no need to thematize their methods of inquiry in this manner. Since around 1980, however, a field has established itself that can be called qualitative psychology. In this paper, I discuss how this field can move sensibly into the future, and I highlight two perils and two potentials. The perils stem from neo-positivism and a threatening “McDonaldization” of qualitative research, while the potentials are related to proliferation of new forms of inquiry and a transcending of disciplinary boundaries.
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The members of the research group include Anders Petersen, Mette Rønberg, Mikka Nielsen, and Ester Holte Kofod in addition to myself. The members’ backgrounds are in psychology, sociology, and social anthropology.
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Brinkmann, S. Perils and Potentials in Qualitative Psychology. Integr. psych. behav. 49, 162–173 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-014-9293-z