IPT Book Reviews

Title: Qualitative Research in Early Childhood Settings  Neutral Review
Editor: J. Amos Hatch
Publisher: Praeger Publishers, 1995

Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West
P. O. Box 5007
Westport, CT 06881-5007
(203) 226-3571
$65 (c); $22.95 (p)

Qualitative research is being presented as an alternative to the quantitative research methodology that has dominated social science's research field for several generations of researchers.  This book represents a serious attempt to present the challenge of qualitative methods to change and redirect the understanding and the research being done in places where young children are found, i.e., day care, preschool, and educational institutions.  The editor claims the authors are expressing "avant garde thinking."  The book has two basic parts: studies and methods, ethics and theory.  There are 13 chapters; six are qualitative studies and seven are essays that defend, clarify, and explain qualitative research.  There are 256 pages including a moderately useful but limited index and brief descriptions of the authors of the chapters.

The primary interest of the book is its focus on the emotional experience of young children in the settings studied.  The fundamental proposition is that our existence is relational and social.  Therefore the context of emotional experience is necessary to understand.  The method favored is the participant observer involved in the contexts of the emotional experiences.

The book is of interest for the observations of children in their daily settings but it fails to consider the evidence suggesting that emotion is determined by our cognitions.  The meaning ascribed to experience depends upon the cognitive capacities of the individual.  Qualitative research may provide material for hypotheses to be developed but then quantitative research is the only way known to ascertain what role subjective experience may have had in producing bias and error in the observations.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies.

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