The central feature of Patricia Leavy’s book, Oral History: Understanding Qualitative Research, is the legitimization of doing oral history and, generally, qualitative research in the social sciences. Leavy reviews the foundational philosophies that inform the qualitative practice of doing social research and the methodological tools that affirm the scientific nature of oral history (such as reflection, explicitness, proper coding, and congruence). Leavy instructs the reader through each stage of the methodological process from research design to writing up the research findings. Oral History is not only an instructional guide but also a response to the critics of the qualitative approach who believe oral history is too subjective and lacks the scientific rigor of the quantitative.


oral history, qualitative research, coding, reflection, feminism

Author Bio(s)

Vaso Thomas is a retired professor of sociology from Bronx Community College, City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at the New School for Social Research in 2004. Some of her publications include, “Being Cool Is Not Enough: Interrogations on White-Ethnic Privilege and Student-Teacher Relations,” in Humanity & Society and a book review of Russell Kazal’s “Becoming Old Stock: The Paradox of German-American Identity” in The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. Thomas’ current project is a collaboration with four women sociologists, Teaching Race, Feeling Race, a book documenting faculty experiences of teaching racecourses. Please direct correspondence to vaso.thomas@outlook.com.

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