STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER Foundations of naturalistic, qualitative and ethnographic inquiry Planning naturalistic, qualitative and ethnographic research Features and stages of a qualitative study Critical ethnography Some problems with ethnographic and naturalistic approaches
NATURALISTIC METHODS ASK... What are the characteristics of a social phenomenon? What are the causes of the social phenomenon? What are the consequences of the social phenomenon?
MAIN KINDS OF NATURALISTIC ENQUIRY Case study Comparative studies Retrospective studies Snapshots Longitudinal studies Ethnography Grounded theory Biography Phenomenology
MAIN METHODS OF NATURALISTIC ENQUIRY Participant observation Interviews and conversations Documents and field notes Accounts Notes and memos
THE QUALITATIVE PARADIGM Humans actively construct their own meanings of situations; Meaning arises out of social situations and is handled through interpretive processes; Behaviour and data are socially situated, context-related, context-dependent and context-rich. Realities are multiple, constructed, and holistic; Knower and known are interactive, inseparable; Only context-bound working hypotheses are possible; Inquiry is influenced by the choice of the paradigm, theory and values that guide the investigation into the problem; Research must include ‘thick descriptions’; The attribution of meaning is continuous and evolving over time; People are deliberate, intentional and creative in their actions; History and biography intersect; Social research needs to examine situations through the eyes of the participants; Researchers are the instruments of the research;
THE QUALITATIVE PARADIGM Researchers generate rather than test hypotheses; Researchers do not know in advance what they will see; Humans are anticipatory beings; Human phenomena seem to require even more conditional stipulations than do other kinds; Meanings and understandings replace proof; Situations are unique; The processes of research and behaviour are as important as the outcomes; People, situations, events and objects have meaning conferred upon them rather than possessing their own intrinsic meaning; Social research should be conducted in natural, uncontrived, real world settings with as little intrusiveness as possible by the researcher; Social reality, experiences and social phenomena are capable of multiple, sometimes contradictory interpretations; All factors have to be taken into account; Data are analyzed inductively; Theory generation is derivative and grounded.
PROCESSES OF QUALITATIVE ENQUIRY Studies must take place in their natural settings as context influences meaning; Humans are the research instrument; Utilization of tacit knowledge is inescapable; Qualitative methods sit more comfortably than quantitative methods with the notion of the human-as-instrument; Purposive sampling can explore the full scope of issues; Data analysis is inductive rather than deductive; Theory emerges (is grounded) rather than is pre-ordinate. Research designs emerge over time; Research outcomes are negotiated; The natural mode of reporting is the case study; Idiographic interpretation replaces nomothetic interpretation; Applications are tentative and pragmatic; Trustworthiness and its components replace conventional views of reliability and validity.
TEN ELEMENTS OF SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM People construct their own actions – they are deliberate intentional and creative; People attribute to, and construct meanings of, their situations and behaviour; people impose meanings on situations; situations themselves do not necessarily possess intrinsic meaning. Significance of subjective meanings and the symbols and symbol systems (e.g. language and communication) by which they are produced and represented; The need to understand individuals’ ‘definitions of the situation’ in their terms, i.e. in any situation there are many definitions of the situation – multiple realities; the self is a social product, constructed through interaction with ‘significant others’ which occurs in relation to multiple ‘reference groups’;
TEN ELEMENTS OF SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM Significance of negotiation – the process by which meanings are constructed; Significance of the natural, social context/environment/ setting in understanding meaning and meaning construction; Situations and people are unique and individual (idiographic); The nature of a ‘career’ – the moving perspective in which people regard their own and others’ lives, based on the meanings which are being formed; ‘career’ includes notions of commitment and identity; Research must include ‘thick description’ – detailed accounts of the situation and participants’ meanings and behaviour; Analysis is ‘emic’ rather than ‘etic’ – generating meaning through presenting participants’ subjective accounts rather than utilizing ‘objective’ research.
ETHNOGRAPHIES CONCERN... The production of descriptive cultural knowledge of a group; The description of activities in relation to a particular cultural context from the point of view of the members of that group themselves; The production of a list of features constitutive of membership in a group or culture; The description and analysis of patterns of social interaction; The provision as far as possible of ‘insider accounts’; The development of theory.
CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY Whereas conventional ethnography is concerned with what is, critical ethnography concerns itself with what could be. Theoretical basis in critical theory and ideology critique. Concerned to expose oppression and inequality in society with a view to emancipating individuals and groups towards collective empowerment. Research is an inherently political enterprise: ethnography with a political intent. It has an explicit agenda and ‘ethical responsibility’ to promote freedom, social justice, equity and well-being. It takes power, control and social exploitation as problematic, and to be changed, rather than simply to be interrogated and discovered Its basis echoes Habermas’s emancipatory interest
CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY Research and thinking are mediated by power relations; These power relations are socially and historically located; Facts and values are inseparable; Relationships between objects and concepts are fluid and mediated by the social relations of production; Language is central to perception; Certain groups in society exert more power than others; Inequality and oppression are inherent in capitalist relations of production and consumption; Ideological domination is strongest when oppressed groups see their situation as inevitable, natural or necessary; Forms of oppression mediate each other and must be considered together (e.g. race, gender, class).
FIVE STAGES IN CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY Stage 1 Compiling the primary record through the collection of monological data Stage 2 Preliminary reconstructive analysis Stage 3 Dialogical data collection Stage 4 Discovering system relations Stage 5 Using system relations to explain findings
PLANNING A QUALITATIVE STUDY 1.Locate a field of study. 2.Decide research questions (where appropriate) 3.Address ethical issues. 4.Decide from whom to obtain data (sampling). 5.Find a role and manage entry into the context. 6.Find informants: –reliability; –Importance in giving accounts; –Knowledge/knowledgeability; –Status; –Contacts – gatekeepers; –Representativeness; –Centrality; –Relationships to others.
PLANNING A QUALITATIVE STUDY 7.Develop and maintain relationships in the field: trust; confidence; rapport; discretion; sensitivity; empathy; 8.Collect data in situ and in several contexts (field notes and triangulation); 9.Collect other data (where relevant); 10.Analyze data; 11.Leave the field; decide when, how, how to close relationships. 12.Write the final report.
REFLEXIVITY Researchers are part of the social world that they are researching This social world is an already interpreted world by the actors Researchers bring their own biographies to the research situation Researchers should acknowledge and disclose their own selves in the research, seeking to understand their part in, or influence on, the research.
OBSERVER ROLES OUTSIDER INSIDER Detached Observer Observer as participant Participant as observer Complete participant
CONCERNS IN CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHIES How do you negotiate your way into a situation; how to minimize threat. Timing the point of entry. Finding a role for yourself. To be a participant observer or non-participant observer? How to maintain naturalism and to avoid people playing to what they perceive are your expectations of them. How to retain your distance from those involved. How to gain access to certain ‘difficult’ groups. Who to regard as key/important informants. How to record multiple perspectives and multiple realities.
CONCERNS IN CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHIES How to address emic and etic approaches. Who owns the data; how much control do respondents/participants have over the data; when does ownership pass from the respondents/participants to the researcher? How to write up the report. What if the researcher sees what the respondents/ participants do not see? Reactivity of participants (Hawthorne effect). Halo effect. Focusing on the known/familiar only. Consider generalizability.
STEPS IN QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS Step 2: Create a ‘domain analysis’ Step 3: Establish relationships and linkages between the domains Step 4: Make speculative inferences Step 5: Summarize Step 6: Seek negative and discrepant cases Step 7: Generate theory Step 1: Establish units of analysis of the data, indicating how these units are similar to and different from each other
SOME DIFFICULTIES IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH Definition of the situation Reactivity Halo effect Implicit conservatism Focusing on the familiar Open-endedness and diversity Neglect of wider social contexts and constraints Generalizability Writing up multiple realities Ownership of the data