Using Diaries for Social Research
- Andy Alaszewski - University of Kent at Canterbury, UK
Social Research Methods
In this accessible and lucid introductory text, Andy Alaszewski considers the analysis of diaries as a distinctive research technique in its own right. Nothing has previously covered this area in single-volume format, but the timely emergence of Using Diaries for Social Research recognizes the increased interest in and relevance of diary methodology within social research teaching.
Effectively combining theory, history and methodology, Alaszewski begins by discussing how diary keeping has developed; outlining the key features of the medium and examining the ways in which diaries have been and can be used for social research. He describes how suitable diaries and diarists can be identified by the researcher and, once found, how these diaries can be structured to generate research material. Finally, the researcher is taken through the analysis stage; examining statistical techniques, content-analysis and structure-analysis as effective methods of investigating diary texts.
This introductory student guide is an essential text for anyone involved in the area of social or historical research and for those working in the narrative tradition.
Alaszewski's book pays close attention to a research method that is only obliquely referred to in more general methods texts. It does surface from time to time in research articles, but I am happy to offer this to students for a basic, introductory consideration of diaries in social research. Throughout, the book supports three types of research - experimental, naturalistic, and unsolicited. These map roughly to quantitative, qualitative, and historical approaches. This diversity makes it a useful introduction, though students of mine may well want to drill further into the second, qualitative approach. Alaszewski's writing gives them a good foundation, however.
Good as an additional practice book for diary methods. Easy to use for beginners.
A comprehensive book for researchers planning to use the diary method in their research.
It is unlikely that students will be interested in adopting this particular research method. I've asked for the library to buy a couple of copies, just in case.
This book is excellent, and I will recommend it to my third year projects students