What is the Justification for a Qualitative Approach to Ageing Studies?

John W Murphy, Charles F. Longino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this essay, a theoretical approach that underpins qualitative research is discussed, thereby illustrating how this outlook differs philosophically from that which underlies quantitative investigations. The purpose of this essay is to promote a firm theoretical foundation for qualitative inquiry in ageing research, which appears to be neglected in many current studies. Key to the theoretical shift attendant to qualitative research is the idea that every aspect of social life is embedded in symbolism. Therefore, those who do research in ageing should be sensitive to the ways in which persons interpret their lives, instead of simply focusing on empirical indicators. Only in this way can socially relevant research be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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