"Qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices transform the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them."
Denzin, NK & Lincoln, YS. (2000) "Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research" In Denzin, NK & Lincoln YS (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research, p. 3. Thousand Oaks: Sage.