The International Journal of Communication has just published a special section on qualitative political communication research based on an ICA preconference last year in Seattle on the theme that Daniel Kreiss, Dave Karpf, Matt Powers, and I organized.
In our opening article framing the special section (as well as the preconference itself), we make the case for a new era of qualitative research to contribute to the study of political communication at a time of rapid media change.
Going back to pioneering work by Gladys Lang and Kurt Lang (see their essays collected in Television and Politics) as well as by Paul Lazarsfeld–far more known for his quantitative work, but actually deeply committed to the integral role of qualitative methods in good social science, as is clear from his methodological writings as well as from for example The People’s Choice–we detail the history of a tradition of mixed-methods research in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s, and show how a new and far more quantitatively-oriented methodological consensus formed from the 1970s onward, facilitating great advances in some areas while marginalizing qualitative inquiry in political communication research.
We conclude our opening article with a discussion of the ways qualitative research, including the articles in this special section, can complement quantitative work and advance the field of political communication–there are many, many opportunities out there for scholars willing to invest the time and effort in learning qualitative methods and in using them to complement quantitative methods and contribute to our collective understanding of political communication.
The many excellent articles in the special section itself are examples of what can be accomplished by political communication research based in whole or in part on qualitative methods. You can see the whole table of contents with link to articles here.
It was a real pleasure to work on this project, from its origins in a paper Daniel, Dave, and I first presented at ICA in London 2013, over the process of organizing the preconference itself (which so many people helped make an extraordinarily interesting event), and finally to the process of editing the special section to ensure we captured and published some of the best work presented along the way.