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Qualitative Field Research

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Field Research"— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Field Research
Interviewing Focus Groups Ethnography Case Studies Grounded Theory Ethnomethodology

2 Topics for Field Research
Attitudes and behaviors best understood in a natural setting. Social processes over time.

3 Elements of Social Life Appropriate to Field Research
Practices: talking, reading a book Episodes: divorce, crime, illness Encounters: people meeting and interacting Role: occupations, family roles Relationships: friendships, family

4 Elements of Social Life Appropriate to Field Research
Groups: cliques, teams, work groups Organizations: hospitals, schools, Congress Settlements: neighborhoods, ghettoes Social worlds: "wall street", "the sports world“ Lifestyles/subcultures: urban, homeless (Wolcott)

5 Role of the Researcher Complete Observer (Secret Outsider)
Participant as Observer (Recognized Outsider) Observer as Participant (Marginal Participant) Complete Participant (Full Participant)

6 Seven Stages of Interviewing
Thematizing Design Interviewing Transcribing Analyzing Verifying and checking facts Reporting

7 Advantages of Focus Groups
Socially oriented research method Flexible High face validity Speedy results Low in cost Increases your N

8 Disadvantages of Focus Groups
Less control than individual interviews. Data can be difficult to analyze. Moderators must be skilled. Difference between groups can be troublesome. Groups are difficult to assemble. Discussion must be conducted in a conducive environment.

9 Ethnography Exploring a cultural group by: discovering understanding
describing and interpreting a way of life from the point of view of its participants

10 Ethnography Ethnographic studies offer:
thick descriptions of cultural groups a methodological approach for exploring cultures, symbols, and norms an acceptance of multiple realities However, they often involve ‘immersion’, and all the problems thereof ethnographic researchers also need to manage their own subjectivities.

11 Guidelines - Taking Research Notes
Don’t trust your memory. Take notes while you observe. Take sketchy notes in the field and rewrite them later (as soon as possible), filling in the details.

12 Guidelines - Taking Research Notes
Record everything. Things that don't seem important may turn out to be significant. Realize that most of your field notes will not be reflected in your final project.

13 The Desire to Delve Deeper
Delving deeper can involve exploring the interactions, processes, lived experiences, and belief systems that can be found within individuals, institutions, cultural groups, and the everyday

14 Strengths of Field Research
Permits a great depth of understanding. Flexibility - research may be modified at any time. Inexpensive (relative to) Has more validity than surveys or experiments

15 Weaknesses of Field Research
Qualitative and not appropriate for statistical descriptions of populations. Small sample size (greatly influenced by outliers) Has potential problems with reliability since field research methods are often personal.

16 Working Towards Credibility
Methods that allow researchers to ‘delve deeper’, often involve parameters not likely to lend themselves to assessment by ‘positivist’ criteria, i.e.) non-random samples generating mainly qualitative data natural settings rather than controlled searching for holistic meaning managing the inherent biases of the researcher inductive analysis idiographic interpretation

17 Improving Interviews Talk little, listen a lot (don’t lead the witness) Record Accurately Begin Writing Early Let reader’s “see” for themselves – primary data Report Fully, even contradictory stuff Be candid (about subjectivity) Seek feedback Write accurately

18 Conducting Ethical Research
Do as little harm as possible You are not in the position to assess level of harm. An agency/institution not directly connected to the research project or findings must assess the level of harm and the potential benefits. If harm is noticeable, then benefit must be greater.

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