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Qualitative Research Approach

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  1. Qualitative Research Approach 1 Shared Issues – both QUANT and QUAL 2 Definitions of Qualitative Research 3 Main Methods employed • Main features of Qualitative approach • Ethnography 6 Theoretical Origins 7 Research purposes and usefulness 8 Qualitative Analysis 9 Practical/methodological issues

  2. Quant and Qual – Shared Issues 1 Establishing REPRESENTATIVENESS selection sampling typicality 2 Avoiding REACTIVITY non-disturbance of object of study • THEORY-DATA relationship defining data theory-testing / theory building

  3. Theory – Datacontradictory or complementary emphases? Theoretical Idea/Hypothesis THEORY BUILDINGTHEORY TESTING - Explore / Discover - Test Hypotheses - Develop - Verification / Falsification - Reflect / Enhance - Prediction Data Collection (Evidence) ITERATIVE REFLECTIVE

  4. Shared Issues (cont’d) • The ANALYSIS task making sense presenting results drawing conclusions ‘data’ and ‘evidence’ ‘account’ or ‘interpretation’ 5 Epistemological Position what counts as ‘knowledge’?

  5. Definition (1) QUALITATIVE RESEARCH.... is an attempt to present the social world, and perspectives on that world, in terms of the concepts, behaviours, perceptions and accounts of the people it is about. [Marshall and Rossman (1989) Designing Qualitative Research, Sage ]

  6. Definition (2) [Jennifer Mason (1996) Qualitative Researching, Sage]: • a philosophical tradition which is broadly 'interpretivist' ... concerned with how the social world is interpreted, understood, experienced or produced • methods of data generation which are flexible and sensitive to the social context in which data are produced (rather than rigidly standardised or structured, or removed from 'real life' or 'natural' social context...) • methods of analysis and explanation building which involve understandings of complexity, detail and context ... rounded understandings...rich, contextual, detailed data ... 'holistic' analysis

  7. Qualitative Research characterised by… • Depth and detail • Descriptive power - ‘rich description’ • Contextualisation • People’s own words / accounts / quotes • Dynamic systems & processes • Interactive - ‘insider’ perspective • Representing world through eyes of subjects(seeing through the eyes of…) • Flexible & adaptable research

  8. MAIN QUALITATIVE METHODS • OBSERVATION Participant Non-Participant • INTERVIEWS Directive Non-Directive Structured Semi-structuredDepth • GROUP DISCUSSIONS (FOCUS GROUPS) • ANALYSIS OF TEXTS & DOCUMENTS • RECORDING & TRANSCRIBING • OFTEN COMBINED (incl Quantitative elements)

  9. OBSERVATION – Field Roles • Complete Detachment DETACHMENT • Detached Participant (brief encounters) • Participant Observer • Complete Participant INVOLVEMENT

  10. INTERVIEWS …a structured conversation… DIRECTIVE NON-DIRECTIVE (I) leads conversation (R) sets the pace • follows (I) facilitates

  11. Types Of Interviews STRUCTURED Interviewer-led/Questionnaire SEMI-STRUCTURED I/V schedule or Topic list (FOCUSED) DEPTH INTERVIEW Respondent-led

  12. Interviewer Tasks - Introductions - Asking the Qs / Covering the topics - Setting the pace - Establishing 'rapport' - Avoiding bias - Keeping opinions to themselves - Recording the answers - Probing and prompting

  13. Advantages • Closeness to informants • Generation of concerns / relevance to interviewees • Flexibility • Richness / depth / detail • Reflexivity

  14. Difficulties • Requires skilled interviewer • Interviewer effects, biases • Smallness of scale, sample • Problems of recording • Large amounts of data • Problems of analysis (practical & theoretical) • Not replicable • Artificiality of I/V setting • Time-scale

  15. FOCUS GROUPS or GROUP DISCUSSIONS • Usually 6 - 10 people • 'Facilitator' to lead the discussion - requires skills • Useful for exploring issues, generating ideas (brain storming) • Difficulties: - selection and representativeness of groups - group dynamics can be poor - difficult to record

  16. Documents and other Secondary Source Material • wide range and types • e.g. administrative records, minutes, archives, papers, speeches • rich source of data • not collected for research purposes • are institutional or social 'products' or 'constructions' • have to be interrogated, used 'critically'

  17. (a) CONTENT ANALYSIS - originated in study of media and communications - wide range of materials - systematic classification of content - MANIFEST vrs LATENT content - very accessible method

  18. (b) ‘OFFICIAL’ DATA SOURCES Advantages • Wealth of information • Can be re-analysed from range of perspectives • Available and accessible • Often the only source of data • Collected systematically - permits comparison over time, before - after studies, between groups, between areas

  19. Disadvantages • Record-keeping - collected for administrative purposes • May not cover areas of interest or be suitable for research purposes • Definitions, categories may not be appropriate • comparison may be difficult across different sources • Time lags • Unpublished data and gaps

  20. MAIN FEATURES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH • NATURALISM • INTERACTIVE • HOLISTIC • INDUCTIVE / THEORY-GENERATING • REFLECTIVE • ETHNOGRAPHIC

  21. ETHNOGRAPHY Developing a total appreciative account of a group or culture (‘ethnos’ = people, ‘graphos’ = picture) Origins: • Anthropology (late C19th early C20th) • MALINOWSKI “…stepping down from the veranda”, Margaret MEAD • Sub-cultural sociology (USA, 1930’s) • Difference / Deviancy • Small groups

  22. Theoretical Influences • PHENOMENOLOGY (Husserl, Schutz) - explanations of phenomena in their own terms, no prior assumptions - rejects natural science approach • SYMBOLIC INTERACTION (Mead, Turner, Goffman) - emphasises how individuals construct meanings, the ‘self’, through language and interaction • VERSTEHEN or ‘understanding’ (Max Weber) - explanation in terms of ‘motivational understanding’ (subjective meaning) • NATURALISM (David MATZA, Howard BECKER) - emphases natural settings, non-adulteration • FEMINIST METHODOLOGY - invisibilities of gender/ otherness - authenticity of subjective experience

  23. “ ….the historical predicament of ethnography…it is always caught up in the invention, not the representation, of cultures” [Clifford, J (1986) Writing Culture]

  24. MAIN PURPOSES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH • CONTEXTUAL – DESCRIBE phenomena in their whole context • DIAGNOSTIC – examine REASONS, CAUSES • EVALUATIVE – appraise EFFECTIVENESS, aspects for CHANGE, INTERVENTION • STRATEGIC/GENERATIVE – develop new ideas, theories, plans, action

  25. When might QUAL/R be used? where subject matter is …. • ill-defined or not well understood • complex • sensitive • concerned with systems, processes, change • requires understanding in detail • requires new ideas or creativity

  26. ANALYSIS of qualitative data Sorting - Organising & Indexing - practical task - theoretical task Reading of data literal / interpretative / reflexive

  27. Cross-sectional indexing systems (for text files): Computer Packages: NVIVO 7, NUD*IST 6, Ethnograph Functions - Defining key terms - Categories for analysis - Links and connections (via ‘nodes’) - Monitoring progress Elements - topics, themes, issues, information, examples - conceptual, theoretical, interpretative - research questions and objectives - monitor analysis/ideas in progress

  28. QUALITATIVE ANALYSISsearches for..... • Definitions / Labelling • Typologies • Form and Nature of phenomena • Associations / Patterns • Explanations • New Ideas & Theories • Illuminative Accounts

  29. Practical / Methodological Issues (1) ACCESS & FIELD ENTRY • Overt / Covert • Reveal role / Reactivity SELECTION & SAMPLING • Typical of what? GENERALISABITY -- Smallness of scale DUAL ROLE • Detachment vrs Involvement • Objectivity / Subjectivity

  30. Practical / Methodological Issues (2) RECORDING & MANAGING DATA - Selectivity ANALYSIS / WRITING UP - Representation / Construction RELIABILITY - Non-measurable - Non-visibility of data VALIDITY - Conceptual adequacy of account ETHICAL ASPECTS - Explanation / Betrayal

  31. Factors Which Enhance Generalisability 1) Corroboration in the literature & other research 2) Links to existing theories and explanations 3) Location in wider contexts (economic, social, political, power relations) 4) Comparison with other observers, investigators 5) Discussion with colleagues, experts 6) Method of ‘constant comparison’ of rival explanations 7) Triangulated multi-method designs