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What is Qualitative Research? Sociology 3522 31 Jan. 2008 Dr. Christopher Kollmeyer A lecture by.

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Presentation on theme: "What is Qualitative Research? Sociology 3522 31 Jan. 2008 Dr. Christopher Kollmeyer A lecture by."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Qualitative Research? Sociology Jan Dr. Christopher Kollmeyer A lecture by

2 Key Epistemological Question: Can the social world be studied with the same methods used in the natural sciences? YES Positivism and deductive research Theory Hypothesis Collect Data Findings Hypothesis confirmed or rejected Revise theory Building blocks of positivistic research –Theories, hypotheses, variables (proxies, measurement validity)

3 In-Class Exercise: 1) Write a one sentence hypothesis about the following social problems: –poverty –gender inequality in the workplace –anti-social behavior among teenagers 2) Identify the variables in your hypotheses 3) H ow you would measure these variables?

4 Possible Answers for In-Class Exercise: 1) Write a one sentence hypothesis about poverty. Answer: Most families living in poverty are headed by individuals with low levels of education. 2) Identify the variables in your hypotheses. Answer: Poverty and education 3) H ow you would measure these variables? Answer: Poverty = £s by which a familys annual income falls below the national poverty line. Education = number of years of formal education for head of household. 4) Whats the unit of analysis? Answer: Families

5 Key Epistemological Question: Can the social world be studied with the same methods and principles used in the natural sciences? NO Interpretativism (or Verstehen) Focuses on understanding motivations for actions rather than anonymous social forces operating beyond the individuals control –Emphasizes the subjects point of view and how it influences his or her behaviour. Inductive research ( usually qualitative research ) General Interest Collect Data on Topic Develop Findings/Insights Revise or develop theories

6 Example of Inductive Research Degiuli, F and C Kollmeyer Bringing Gramsci back in: Labor control in Italy's new temporary help industry. Work, Employment & Society 21(3):

7 Key Ontological Question Key Ontological Question: Does the social world contain forces that operate wholly independent of individual social actors? Yes = Objectivism positivistic approach –Social forces seen as external realities lying beyond our control No = Constructionism interpretive approach –People and groups often actively participate in creating and interpreting social forces. Thus, they are embedded in the social process. Its not external to them.

8 Structure, Agency, and Reflexivity Social Forces Social Reproduction or Social Change Free Will

9 Example of Research in the Interpretivistic Tradition Duneier, Mitchell Sidewalk. New York: FSB Basic Steps Interested in the Creation of Safe Urban Communities –Broken Widows Thesis –Informal Social Control Pick Field Work Site Participant-Observer Conceptualize Findings / Generate Theoretical Insights Reframe Original Research Question

10 Key Differences Between Quantitative and Qualitative Research QuantitativeQualitative Role of Theory Describes casual relations (Input) Theory generates testable hypothesis Describes casual relations (Output) Data generate new theories Epistemology Positivism / DeductiveInterpretivism / Inductive Ontology ObjectivismConstructionism Variables Quantified with proxiesNot directly applicable Typical Subjects Macro-sociologyMicro-sociology


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