The importance of qualitative and unobtrusive research methods within the broader concept of meaning-making

Christelle J. Auriacombe, Natanya Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article focusses on the interrelationship between unobtrusive research methods and theory during the process of meaning-making in qualitative research. The article unravels the dynamics of meaning-making when using unobtrusive methods to develop an analytical framework, in the context of the broader debates and issues relating to qualitative research methodology. The methodology was based on a comparative desktop study to identify and assess the current state of the debate. It entailed a comprehensive literature survey of authoritative methodologists to conceptualise and contextualise the area of investigation. It was found that the limitations of the dependence on empirical techniques may in some cases hamper meaning-making. The conceptual analysis method could be more credible than survey findings as it supplies the reader with unobtrusive research techniques that study social behaviour to eliminate bias and promote conceptual and contextual analysis. The article concluded that qualitative science aims to develop concepts to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomena represented by the concepts themselves and, to develop generalisable and valid theories. It is recommended that triangulating unobtrusive methods with other methods in a qualitative design-in terms of interpreting, conceptualising and abstracting-enhances meaning-making in Social Sciences to contribute to new knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-662
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Conceptual analysis
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Qualitative research
  • Unobtrusive research techniques/Methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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