Presentation on theme: "Using multi-modal qualitative data as evidence Jonathan Scourfield Ben Fincham Susanne Langer."— Presentation transcript:
Using multi-modal qualitative data as evidence Jonathan Scourfield Ben Fincham Susanne Langer
The development of social research on suicide Durkheim and the social context of an ostensibly individual act. Suicide rates and social integration Douglas – a Weberian emphasis on subjective meanings to social actors Atkinson – the coroners construction of a suicide case. Does not address suicide prevention Mainstream contemporary suicidology – dominated by quantitative methodology Lots of talk about suicide in young men, but relatively little attention to diversity or to power relations (Scourfield, 2005)
A qualitative sociological autopsy study of individual suicides The tradition of psychological autopsy studies The study of individual suicides is generally seen as irredeemably psychological The term social autopsy used by Klinenberg to mean the macro-level social and political context (of a disaster) Can there be a sociology of individual suicides? The study of both what we know about suicidal lives and the knowledge itself Evidence for suicide prevention that goes beyond counting risk factors
Multi-modal data on individual suicides (Work in progress) Coroners case files Interviews with relatives, friends and professionals Media accounts
Diverse data in case files Forms filled out by coroner Scribbles on file wallets Police statements from witnesses and significant others Forensic pathology reports Medical letters and reports, especially psychiatric ones Suicide notes Mobile phone records Photographs Other: letters to the coroner, newspaper clippings
Ethical implications of working with suicide case files The challenge of preserving both anonymity and context The emotional well-being of the researcher
The analytical implications of working with diverse documentary data Theoretical implications – anti-reductionist sociology (Sibeon, 1999), a psycho-social approach. Making explicit where interpretation comes from – making analysis visible.
How do we make sense of these accounts? The conditions under which the accounts are constructed. What we do and do not know. We have to work with tensions between sources – recognise them and resolve them or incorporate them where possible. We need a holistic psycho-social interpretation of the suicide. Not just case studies. We have 100 of these, so some quantification will also be needed.
References Atkinson, J.M. (1978) Discovering Suicide. Studies in the Social Organization of Sudden Death. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.. Douglas, J. (1967) The Social Meanings of Suicide, Princeton, Princeton University Press. Durkheim, E. (2002 ) Suicide, London, Routledge. Klinenberg, E. (2002) Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, Chicago, Chicago University Press. Scourfield, J. (2005) Suicidal masculinities. Sociological Research On-line, 10 (2) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/10/2/scourfield.html Sibeon, R. (1999) Anti-reductionist sociology, Sociology 33 (2): 317-224