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Qualitative Research. 1. Qualitative Research v. other research strategies 2. Qualitative Analysis –Fluid/flexible analytical frames –Analytical induction.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Research. 1. Qualitative Research v. other research strategies 2. Qualitative Analysis –Fluid/flexible analytical frames –Analytical induction."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Research

2 1. Qualitative Research v. other research strategies 2. Qualitative Analysis –Fluid/flexible analytical frames –Analytical induction –Theoretical sampling 3. Case Studies 4. Qualitative Methods

3 1. Qualitative Research v. Other Approaches Common Assumptions (not Ragin) Holistic understanding of the world Cases have to be considered as a whole (in-depth) Cases are embedded in time and space. Generalisation across cases is not possible Specific features have different implications according to the exact configuration in which they occur Therefore, isolation of (independent) variables is not possible Aim is to understand specific individual cases, not to explain general features Inductive research methodology Please note: these assumptions make qualitative research the opposite of quantitative research, working according to a different research logic. Ragin’s account emphasises the common features. He sees them along a continuum rather than as completely different

4 3 Strategies of Social Research Trade-off between number of cases and number of features 1.Qualitative: few cases – many features 2.Quantitative: many cases – few features 3.Comparative: balance between 1. and 2.


6 Data handling What does qualitative research do to the data? Ex: study of gun enthusiasts Qualitative Research: enhances data Goal: exhaustive representation of a case want to see details behind what is apparent Why do you collect guns, when did you start, how does it feel to posess a gun etc. Quantitative Research: condenses data in order to reveal the bigger picture behind the data get rid of all the particularities of special cases, and look for remaining pattern (which social group is most inclined to collect guns?) Comparative Research: elucidates subtle patterns in data in order to examine differences between cases (more case oriented than quanti, less case oriented than quali). Would look for different types of gun enthusiasts

7 The goals of qualitative research Giving Voice Interpreting Historically and Culturally Significant Phenomena Advancing Theory

8 Basic interest of qualitative research (according to Ragin) In-depth knowledge of case Identify the basic features/characteristics of a case Identify common features across different instances of a case Often in order to clarify key aspects and to correct common misrepresentations

9 2. Qualitative Analysis General: Start with flexible/fluid analytical frame (in order to engage in “reciprocal clarification” between concepts and images – retroduction Analytic Induction (deviant case analysis): search for contrary evidence in order to improve images and concepts –reconceptualize (extend the concept) to make new evidence fit, or –narrow the category, thus excluding contrary evidence (from being a deviant case, it becomes an irrelevant case, because it now falls outside the frame of reference) Theoretical sampling: –add further cases and compare with original study object (not in order to capture full variation, but in order to deepen understanding of research subject and to clarify concepts) ( random sampling in quantitative research )

10 Example: Study on professional politicians (British MPs) Analytic Induction –Observation: interviews have shown, MPs (category) strive to become government ministers (concept) –Deviant observation: one MP (who also holds a boardroom position in a private company) strives for a position in top-management of the private sector 2 possible ways to deal with this problem –Broadening concepts: MPs strive to advance their career (concept) –Narrowing categories: Full-time MPs (category) strive to become government ministers Theoretical Sampling –Observation: interviews have shown, MPs (category) strive to become government ministers (concept) –Extend interviews to different types of MPs (perhaps regarding personal background, regional origin etc. – features that might have an influence on career ambitions)

11 Qualitative R. : one/few cases! Ragin‘s examples (e.g. legal assistance lawyers): many cases Solution: not really treated as different cases, but as incidents of the same case Goal is NOT to find general pattern over many cases, nor to find variation among cases, but to know more about what one case (group) has in common. Looking at different incidents in order to have full picture of your case (look at new cases until saturation) and to refine concepts and categories.

12 4. Case Studies (N = 1) (Gerring 2001: ) Advantage: –Watching the relationship between X and Y over time and in detail (in its context), may elucidate causal mechanisms Disadvantage: –Lack plenitude (problems of generalisation) Is n really 1? The term case study might be ambiguous: –Look at one case in detail, yet embedd this case in context of other cases (often done in the process of case case selection) –Across-case vs within-case variation Number of n is always connected to specific causal proposition (there can be more than one in one study) Ex: Study of Mau-Mau revolution in Kenia (n = 1) But, why did it start from region A and not B? (n = number of Kenian regions) Why did some people participate, others not (n = number of studied individuals)

13 Types of Case Studies Extreme Case Typical Case Crucial Case –Deviant Case Counterfactual Case What makes your case significant? By assigning your case study to one of these types, you are relating your case to the universe of other cases, your are setting it into context. Even though you might be doing a case study (n=1), you are “comparing” (going beyond that single case).

14 Extreme Case Definition: –choosing the most extreme case with regard to the outcome in question Example: –Study facism in Germany or Italy, rather than where it was less extreme –Study substate nationalism/regionalism in Scotland rather than Bavaria Adv./Disadv. + Extreme cases often reveal the essence of a causal relation –Often sacrifice in representativeness –Extreme with regard to which dimension? (is there only one?)

15 Typical Case Definition: –Choose (not the extreme but) the most representative/typical case. A case that exemplifies the mean, median or mode on the dimension in question Example: –Robert and Helen Lynd studied Muncie, Indiana as a typical American community Adv./Disadv. –+ generalisation of results –- Quite often there is no typical case, as a population consists of quite different subgroups (remedy: find typical case of each subgroup) –Neither mean nor median are necessarily typical Note: the representativeness of a case cannot be established within a n=1 study. We can only choose with reference to other sources/general knowledge

16 Crucial Case Definition: –Cases that are critical for a concept or a body of theory, cases that have come to exemplify a concept Example: –France in a study on revolutions Adv./Disadv. –If you want to add a new aspect to a theory, best do it in a well-studied, crucial case, not in some obscure case hardly known –There might not be a crucial case

17 Deviant Case (subcategory of crucial case) Definition: –case that is disconfirming a particular theory/concept (least-likely case shown to be positive, most likely case shown to be negative) –Unlike extreme case, which is confirming a theory Example: –Country with Plurality Voting System but Multi-Party System (disconfirming Duverger’s law) Adv./Disadv.: –Helps to figure out faults in a theory –There may not be a deviant case, and if, it might be explained easily, without much impact on the original theory (exception proving the rule) Note: Modification, not falsification is the main purpose of crucial/deviant case analysis

18 Counterfactual Case Definition: –Thought experiments (no real case), “what-if”-scenarios –counterfactual case is most similar to real case, but differs in the one variable that is of interest Example: –Proposition: US won WWII because invasion in 1944 –Counterfactual case to support this proposition: imagine WWII without the US invasion of 1944 possible result: if US had not invaded in 1944, Germany would have had time to develop its own atomic bomb Adv./Disadv. –Not necessarily conclusive, but helpful –Not for purpose of general explanations, but to explain specific outcomes

19 4. Qualitative Methods How to find/retrieve/create evidence? Interviews (in-depth) Narrative (life story, story of event), semi-structured Transcription (words, emphasis, body language etc.), analysis (different techniques) Panel Discussions Moderated, unmoderated Transcription, analysis (Participant) observation ethnographic method. Observe objects and their action in their natural context, often the researcher becomes part of the social world that is studied Field Notes record of observations, reflections and thoughts during the research process Document analysis Official documents, letters, diaries, newspapers

20 Analysis/Interpretation Data enhancing (narrative interview v. structured questionnaire) Problem: how to condensate, analyse in order to form representation. How to find significant evidence Different techniques General: much more room for researcher and their interpretation Retroduction (interplay analytic frame – image) very important

21 You should know: Advantages / goals of qualitative research Characteristics of qualitative research Analytical induction Different types of cases studies Are case studies (n=1) comparative? Methods to retrieve evidence/data

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