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Copyright, 1995-2002 1 Invitation to Research INTERPRETIVIST RESEARCH TECHNIQUES Roger Clarke, Xamax Consultancy, Canberra Visiting Professor, CSIS, Uni.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright, 1995-2002 1 Invitation to Research INTERPRETIVIST RESEARCH TECHNIQUES Roger Clarke, Xamax Consultancy, Canberra Visiting Professor, CSIS, Uni."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright, 1995-2002 1 Invitation to Research INTERPRETIVIST RESEARCH TECHNIQUES Roger Clarke, Xamax Consultancy, Canberra Visiting Professor, CSIS, Uni of Hong Kong Visiting Fellow, Australian National University /53-Int.ppt ebs, 16-18 January 2003

2 Copyright, 1995-2002 2 Interpretivist Research Meta-Physical Assumptions The Observer's Perspective is a Factor: in the selection and formulation of Theory in the formulation of Hypotheses in choices made in the Research Design process in the selectiveness of observation in the process of observation

3 Copyright, 1995-2002 3 Interpretivist Research Data Assumptions Objectivity, in the sense in which it is used in Scientific Research, is meaningless, because: it presumes the existence of a unitary Truth it presumes that Truth to be accessible by humans it overlooks the fact that entities within the domain think they can exercise free will An Alternative Interpretation: Try to identify Researcher Biases Try to avoid or allow for Researcher Biases Enable evaluators to assess Researcher Biasses

4 Copyright, 1995-2002 4 Hermeneutics The study of the interpretation of texts Text is to be understood generically Four Approaches: Conservative Critical Dialogical Radical

5 Copyright, 1995-2002 5 Conservative (Romantic) Hermeneutics Origins in studies of scripture Meaning is embedded in the text by the originator, and is to be extracted by the reader Hence the interpretation of texts is based primarily on the presumed intent of the author Truth is correspondence between the interpreters appreciation and the texts meaning The reader is obligated to research: the historical, cultural and lingual contexts the background of the originator

6 Copyright, 1995-2002 6 Critical Hermeneutics The originator was constrained and biassed by social, economic and political forces The reader is... The reader cannot fully appreciate either set of constraints and biasses (Habermas) The reader is obligated to: be sceptical (critical) about constraints and biases investigate those constraints and biases

7 Copyright, 1995-2002 7 Dialogical Hermeneutics Language may express experience, but language is also itself experience (Heidegger) Meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and is conditioned by the significance that the beholder ascribes to the text Research cannot eliminate all bias (Gadamer) The reader cannot transcend their own biases in order to comprehend the text as it was intended

8 Copyright, 1995-2002 8 Radical Hermeneutics There is no Truth (or meta-narrative), or alternatively Truth is relative The reader is obligated to be sceptical: not only about constraints and biases but also about the meta-assumptions underlying the endeavour, e.g. language, and the concept of meaning Post-Structuralism (Foucault, Derrida) Post-Modernism (Lyotard)

9 Copyright, 1995-2002 9 Interpretivist Research Techniques A Taxonomy (5+5) Descriptive/Interpretive Focus Group Action Research Ethnographic Research Grounded Theory...

10 Copyright, 1995-2002 10 Interpretivist Research Techniques Common Characteristics Immersion of the Researcher in the Context Awareness of Multiple Perspectives Data is mostly qualitative: spoken word, documents, observations Process gather data extract themes postulate generalisations propose taxonomies

11 Copyright, 1995-2002 11 Interpretivist Research Techniques Some Principles An iterative process, not fully predeterminable Meaning must be sought within context Multiple meanings must be accommodated Data emerge, and Researchers participate Theories need not deal in falsifiable propositions Dependance on self-knowledge and self- scepticism Requires sceptical probing behind conventions

12 Copyright, 1995-2002 12 Descriptive / Interpretive Research The disciplined study of consciousness from a 1st-person perspective Subject to limited formal rigour, but controls over the researchers intuition include: self-examination of pre-suppositions cycles of data collection and analysis peer review Phenomenology (Husserl) seeks to reject all commitments to existing theories

13 Copyright, 1995-2002 13 Focus Group A meeting in which a Moderator informs, and encourages discussion among, a group of 6-12 people, usually strangers, typically for 1.5 - 2.5 hours The groups demographic profile is important, but the identities of the participants are not relevant Discussion is 'focussed' on a topic, but is allowed to range across many (often, any) aspects of that topic A record is kept. Any observers must be outside the vision of the participants, and must not participate, in order to avoid influencing the discussion

14 Copyright, 1995-2002 14 Focus Group Suitability Original use was in the 1940s, to assess the effectiveness of propaganda Common in commercial research into consumer and citizen attitudes Effective where the opinions of the target population are difficult to extract, e.g. people in the relevant category currently have limited information available to them about the topic the topic is highly multi-dimensional the opinions are polarised, or fluid

15 Copyright, 1995-2002 15 Action Research Study conducted from within a setting e.g. by an employee or consultant The researcher not merely observes, but also participates, typically by acting as a change agent in relation to some intervention Achieves depth, including appreciation of dialects, contexts, and tacit knowledge Has to cope with lack of independence ETHICS (Mumford), Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland), Multiview (Wood-Harper)

16 Copyright, 1995-2002 16 Ethnographic Research Originated in anthropological studies (typically by colonialists of natives) Seeks detailed understanding of a focal topic Comprises observation of, and conversation with, people in their own environment Seeks to reflect relevant cultural factors

17 Copyright, 1995-2002 17 Analysis of Qualitative Data Classification of data into Categories, and postulation of Networked Relationships among the Categories: Open Coding in first pass Axial Coding, once categories exist Selective Coding, in last pass Reporting of: The Categories and Network Quotations to Support the Concepts

18 Copyright, 1995-2002 18 Grounded Theory (Strauss) A particular discipline for extracting meaning from qualitative data collected in the field (mainly collected by means of interviews, but possibly observation or written questionnaires) Requires: substantial and careful collection continual reflection and self-questioning story-telling reporting, from the subjects perspective(s), not the researchers

19 Copyright, 1995-2002 19 The Process of Grounded Theory Two or more Researchers, independently: read and reflect on the materials generate a list of Concepts cluster the concepts into Themes The Researchers: review one anothers lists debate and negotiate re-code based on revised lists Repeat until adequate commonality

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