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The centrality of marginalia: analysing paradata from the Poverty in the UK study Heather Elliott

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1 The centrality of marginalia: analysing paradata from the Poverty in the UK study Heather Elliott

2 The possibilities for a narrative analysis of paradata project Research Team: Ann Phoenix, Janet Boddy, Ros Edwards; Heather Elliott Aim: To investigate the possibilities of narrative analysis of paradata, and attendant ethical issues, through working with historically situated archived data Poverty in the UK: A Survey of Household Resources and Standards of Living 1967-68 Aimed to define and measure poverty 3566 households, 9584 people 630 parliamentary constituencies with 4 ‘special areas’

3 Paradata in the Poverty in the UK Study

4 Paradata within survey methodology Paradata valuable to understand survey practices, particularly how technologies work in the field; how to improve response rates / data quality. Nicolaas, 2011 Paradata comprises : All data about the process of collecting survey data : such as interviewer call records, length of interview, key stroke data, interviewer characteristics Although interviewer observations and information do not describe processes, this kind of information is also often referred to as paradata. ‘A crucial step in gaining co-operation from sample members is the interaction between the interviewer and the contacted sample member’

5 Outline of research method Sampled four types of area: special areas, affluent, high immigration, seaside Identified booklets with extensive marginalia Emergent categorisation of marginalia: amplification : justification; explanation; evaluation : de-briefing (of self and of team); standpoint (political; personal) Focused thematic analysis (69 cases) Narrative analysis (6 cases):close reading and joint analysis

6 Marginalia : insights from the history of reading Readers’ marks have an uncanny ability to unsettle assumptions, pose questions, and provide new perspectives on the history of people, practices, and technologies. Sherman, 2013 ‘Marginalia cannot become ‘central’ it seems, without relegating the source text to the margins Marginalia are responsive. They arise out of a reader’s reaction to a prior printed text and are by definition dependent upon that text for their meaning. With rare exceptions they cannot be re-produced as free standing utterances.’ Jackson, 2000

7 Poverty in the UK : ground-breaking survey ‘Poverty can be defined objectively and applied consistently only in terms of the concept of relative deprivation’ ‘Unusual, odd and extraordinary households’...this survey is different from others. It is vital for unusual, odd and extraordinary households and not only usual or ordinary households to be properly represented in the results. Society is diverse and we are concerned to capture this diversity.... ‘Keep the number of persons refusing an interview as small as possible’ ‘ People with inadequate resources... are more likely than others to in crowded conditions which make tempers short and interviewing difficult.’ ‘

8 Poverty in the UK : a groundbreaking survey Reliance on researchers’ observations ‘We are seeking to distinguish between coloured and non- coloured immigrants.. You should base your codes on observation together with inferences from what you are told in the interviews...’ Cash Incomes and Assets : ‘the centrepiece of the questionnaire.’ ‘Respondents will be asked about almost every possible source of income – we are convinced this method obtains better results than less complete prompting.’ ’The compensations of the poor :Private help given and received’ To develop a ‘crude classification of social integration or isolation’......

9 Emphasis on low refusal rates Detailed data on income /assets Reliance on observations Inclusive of hard to reach groups Interest in social support

10 ‘ After a while she allowed me in ’ ‘The informant in this case was deaf. Two calls were made at the house. No answer 1 st visit. At 2 nd no answer was received. I called next door and was told that the informant was deaf. I asked if help could be given with the questionnaire, but was told that the informant was ‘odd’ and no-one had anything to do with her. I called at house again and informant came to the door. After a while she allowed me in. I stayed about an hour.’

11 ‘I talked down her ear’ ‘Informant managed to hear some of what I said if I talked down her ear. She was 83 years of age and it was obviously impossible to ask her the questions in an ordinary way. We talked and I managed to ask her quite a few of the relevant questions.’

12 ‘It was rather sad...’ ‘It was rather sad, informant had lived alone for two years, sister died in 1966. Informant kept on crying. On this bright summer evening we sat in front ‘parlour’ with curtains drawn and lights on, newspapers covered the ‘good’ chairs. Informant did not really understand why I was there – hoped that perhaps I might manage to get her more money to live on. She would not however, think of applying for national assistance, I think though that something could be done for her. Informant constantly said there is ‘no debt’ here. I have completed the questionnaire as best as I can.’

13 ‘I completely forgot to ask her name’ ‘Informant said that she never had anyone in, was completely independent. I came away wishing I could help informant and would like to call again. Also, informant talked so much about her dead sister Ada that completely forgot to ask informant’s name.’

14 Paradata as indicative of team dynamics and hierarchies ‘We are checking and editing in green and purple pens: may we ask interviewers to continue to use the more prosaic colours of black, blue and red’

15 ‘Join the dots to make a picture of the survey so far’

16 Typology of Paradata Forms AMPLIFICATION - figures and computation - background clarification - direct quotes JUSTIFICATION- of coding decision - of lack of coding EXPLANATION- relates to substantive focus and coding EVALUATION Character …….- individual or household personality/emotions - material/resource circumstances Claims…………- veracity of interviewee information - what may have happened/will happen DEBRIEFING Self …………….- offload/explain to self Core team …..- discuss/explain interview process - comment on research focus or questions - exchanges between interviewer and core team STANDPOINT Political ………- wider political context Social …………- wider general or local social situation Personal …….- active/voice beyond fieldworker role

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