Recently published: The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research

The 5th edition of Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln’s (2018) edited volume, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research was published earlier this year. I’ve now had a chance to look over a volume and compare it to the previous editions sitting on my book shelf. I recall consulting the first edition of the Handbook (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994) numerous times when I was completing my doctoral degree in the 1990s. I found it to be an invaluable resource as I began to read in new areas and wanted to better understand key concepts related to theory and methods used in qualitative inquiry . The reference lists for each chapter were vital for searching out more sources on a particular topic. Since that time, I’ve used many chapters in teaching, I refer students to chapters in various editions of the Handbook (2000, 2005, 2011), and I find myself re-reading particular chapters when working on research and writing. What is different in the 5th edition?

The editors explain that the 5th edition of the handbook includes 57 new chapter authors and/or coauthors, with “16 totally new chapter topics.” To give a sense of the flavor of the handbook, topics addressed include:

  • Feminist qualitative research in the new millennium
  • Critical social science
  • Critical pedagogy and the bricolage
  • New science studies
  • The marketization of qualitative inquiry
  • Data and its problematics
  • Triangulation
  • Observation and the surveilled world
  • Thinking with theory
  • Collaborative writing
  • Rigor
  • The global audit culture
  • Transformative research for social justice
  • Human rights
  • Indigenous inquiry
  • Evidence, politics, science and government
  • Criteria for assessing interpretive validity
  • Queer theory
  • Performance ethnography

And of course, there are many more too numerous to list….

The handbook is organized in six parts following an introductory chapter:

Part 1: Locating the field (3 chapters)

Part 2: Paradigms and perspectives in contention (8 chapters)

Part 3: Strategies of inquiry (10 chapters)

Part 4: Methods of collecting and analyzing empirical materials (11 chapters)

Part 5: The art and practices of interpretation, evaluation and representation (6 chapters)

Part 6: The future of qualitative research (3 chapters)

Denzin and Lincoln write that they want the handbook to do many things, including:

  • Distill knowledge about qualitative inquiry
  • Serve as a “benchmark volume” that synthesizes existing literature
  • Chart the past, present and future of “discourses at hand”
  • Represent the “best thinking of the very best scholars in the world” (p. xi)

They also hope to “respect and attempt to honor diversity across disciplinary and paradigmatic perspectives” (p. xi). These are large demands of any text given the continuing proliferation of paradigms witnessed over the last two decades (Lather, 2006).

I’ve just begun to dip into the volume and liked what I’ve read so far. The volume includes a variety of senior and junior scholars authoring updated chapters (e.g., on topics such as Critical Race Theory and Critical Pedagogy), as well as new topics (e.g., human rights). Yet, chapters also address topics that have been much written about (e.g., interviews, triangulation, rigor). I look forward to digging into both the updated chapters as well as new topics.

This handbook is sure to be as well-used and frequently-cited as the earlier editions. If you are not able to obtain your own copy of this reference book for your library, be sure to check it out at your library. When I looked in my university library – it was still available for loan.

Kathy Roulston




Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (1994). Handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of qualitative research. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2005). The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2011). The Sage handbook of qualitative research (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2018). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Lather, P. (2006). Paradigm proliferation as a good thing to think with: Teaching research in education as a wild profusion. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education (QSE), 19(1), 35-57.


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