qualitative methods field research 1.participant observation 2.intensive interview 3.focus groups...

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  • Qualitative MethodsField ResearchParticipant observationIntensive interviewFocus groupsQualitative analysis Content AnalysisHistorical and Comparative Research

  • Features of Qualitative ResearchExploratory purposeFocus on natural behaviorEmphasis on subjective experienceExamination of context, environmentInductive methodsIdiographic explanationAwareness of researchers role

  • Participant ObservationDegrees of participation:

    Complete observer (less researcher effect)

    Participant observer (limited participation)

    Complete participant (may conceal identity)

  • Should I participate?Advantages1. Deeper insight, under-standing.2. Better access to group and members.3. May get to know group members better.Disadvantages1. May affect group behavior or processes.2. May prevent asking questions, taking notes.3. May lead to loss of objectivity.4. May be unethical if identity is concealed.

  • Gaining Entry and Building RelationshipsMay use key individual or informant.May require a plausible explanation.Dont be aggressive, insensitiveMaintain some distanceExpect conflicts; dont take sides

  • Paradigms in Field ResearchNaturalism social life as it really is- may include ethnography (description)Ethnomethodology reality as socially constructed focus on process of construction how people create meaningGrounded theory attempt to derive theory from analysis of observationsParticipatory action research research guides subjects in solving a problem

  • Sampling in field researchNon-probability methods; not mathematical; may overlap

    Theoretical sample what comparisons or groups are suggested by my theory?Purposive (judgmental) sample deliberately sample different positions, points of viewSnowball sample ask each member to introduce you to someone elseQuota sample predetermined number of people with certain characteristics.Deviant cases outsiders point of viewExperience sample randomly ask people what they are doing or thinking (may use pager).

  • Taking NotesElectronic or pencil and paperPrepare forms in advanceMay be surreptitiousNotes should include:Setting or contextMethodologyObservations: Facts Interpretations: separate from factsTranscribe ASAP

  • Possible Ethical Problems in Field ObservationVoluntary participationInformed consentConfidentialityNo harm to participants

  • Intensive (Unstructured) InterviewNo standardized questions open-endedDirected conversation; can flow freelyRs answer in own wordsExact words must be recordedInterviewer can use probes freelyMay be combined with observation.

  • Stages in interviewing (Kvale)1. Thematize (define purpose, goals)2. Design (lay out process and questions)3. Interview4. Transcribe (to written text)5. Analyze (figure out what it means)6. Verify (check reliability and validity)7. Report

  • Focus GroupsGroups formed by researcher.Not a representative sample.Usually 7 or more people.Discussion of specific topic or problem.Used in marketing, politics, businesses, organizations.Flexible, fast, face validity, relatively low costDifficult to assemble and moderate, difficult to analyze data, less control by researcher.

  • Analysis of qualitative dataDocumentation Transcribing notes into text formOrganizing:Conceptualization: understanding meaningsCoding and categorizing: find themes, patterns, types;

  • Analysis of qualitative dataWhat to look for:ThemesPatternsTypesCategoriesGeneralization may lead to theory (grounded theory)History of processes, development over timeEmpirical Generalization

  • Analysis of qualitative dataExamine relationships and display dataTables, diagrams, flowchartsAuthenticate evidenceCredibility, corroborationBe reflexiveMust be aware of own role, own interpretation

  • Software for qualitative analysisReads text files (field notes)Researcher selects text codes into categoriesProgram uses codes toPull out cases in a categoryCount cases in a categoryReview text segmentsSort and classify

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Field ResearchDeeper understandingRich description, detailInexpensiveFlexibleLimited generalizabilitySubjectivityWeaknessesStrengths

  • Unobtrusive ResearchResearcher does not interact with subjectsNo researcher effect

  • Content analysisAnalysis of recorded communication

    Who says what?To whom?How?Why?With what effect?

  • Units of Analysis in CAThe source: Who says it?Candidates, companies, advertisers, networks, newspapers, etc. The statement: What is said?Articles, speeches, commercials, editorials, images, etc.

  • Example: Content analysis of political adsComparing sources: McCain vs. Obama themes, intended audience, similarities & differences

    Comparing statements: TV ads images, words, topics, changes over time. May not distinguish b/t candidates. Focus is on characteristics of political ads.

  • Coding in Content AnalysisManifest content: exact words used (e.g. terrorism, security, taxes, businesses, jobs, families, wrong, truth, hope, strong, opponents name)Latent content: underlying tone or image, overall impression; more subjective candidate as strong/weak positive/neutral/critical/nastyemotional/logical appeal

  • Sampling in Content AnalysisAny conventional method can be usedExamples of sampling units:PublicationsProgramsArticlesEditorialsAdsTime periodsGeographic areas

  • Strengths and Weaknesses of Content AnalysisStrengthsEconomical: cheap and fastReliable: can be checked, correctedUnobtrusive: no researcher effectHistorical focus: can cover long periods of time efficientlyWeaknessesLimited to what is recordedValidity: MAY be subjective, nonscientific

  • Historical and Comparative ResearchHistorical - events and processes over a period of time (past or present)Comparative - different groups, areas, or societies at the same timeThese can overlap e.g., a historical comparative studyThese can be qualitative or quantitative or both

  • Both use existing secondary data statisticsdocumentsnews accountsnarratives, storiesoral historiesletters and diariesorganizational recordsartifacts

  • Issues in using secondary dataValidityDifferent operational definitionsMeaning of words may changeSources may not be scientificGaps in information, missing dataCase studies, not representativeFocus on individuals, events, not on social structures

  • Issues in using secondary dataReliabilitySources accuracy may be questionableSubjectivity, selective perception

  • Types of Historical Studies1. Historical events - explain unique event or series of events. Causes, contributing factors. Develop general theory. Focus on social structure, not people or details.2. Historical process - longitudinal. Relation of time to events. Duration, pace of change, cycles or trends, cultural meaning of time.

  • Comparative Studies Usually cross sectional Compare same variable in different societies. Comparability of data is major issueMissing data may also be a problem


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