1 What is qualitative research.docx

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Carleton University
Criminology and Criminal Justice
CRCJ 3002
Suzanne Cooper

What is qualitative research? (Lecture 2) 1. Positivism - The restriction of philosophy to problems open to scientific methods World view - Naive realism • Perception accurately portrays all objects and events in the world • One ‘truth’ • Goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena that we experience Creating knowledge - ‘Dualist’approach- research and participants are completely independent from each other • Must stay as far away from each other to maintain objectivity - Objectivity is a characteristic that resided in the individual scientist Methods - Pure experiments • Attempt to discern natural laws **** 2. Post-positivism - Addresses criticisms made by various schools of thought, but preserves basic assumptions of positivism - The knower and known cannot be separated World view - Critical realism: all observation is fallible - As a researcher we can have an effect on our research - All research is somewhat fallible Creating knowledge - Reject the idea that any individual can see the world perfectly as it really is Methods - Use mixed methods - Achieve objectivity through triangulation - Will use qualitative methods Problems with positivist paradigm Parker (1994) - Ecological validity • To what degree does your experiment mimic the real world? • You have ecological validity if your experiment is really close to the real world. • Parker argues that a sterile lab is really far from the real world. - Ethics and morality • Should we actively deceive participants? • You are not always giving a real portrayal of what you want to portray (ex: tell participants that you want them to do one thing when you are really studying a different thing). - Demand characteristics - Volunteer characteristics • Volunteers are not necessarily a representative sample - Experimenter effects • The researcher could end up influencing the participant - Language • In quantitative research, you want as little talking as possible 3. Social constructionism - The various ways social reality and social phenomena are constructed - Based on relativism World view - Relativism: a theory that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them Creating knowledge - Transactional and subjectivist • Interview is a transaction.Agood interview is probably 45 minutes to 1 hour long - No one true external reality Methods - Methods are used to interpret people’s subjective experiences/realities - More informed understanding of people’s individual experiences - Qualitative Methods: are about understanding, not cause & effects (cause & effect is quantitative not qualitative). Philosophy Issue Positivism/Post- Social Constructionism Goal is to: Predict & control Understand Behaviour Forces acting on people Context & individual’s perception of viewed as meaning caused by: Regular & ordered Science is a Uncover general laws Understand the reality of others tool to: of cause & effect Research Experiments, Surveys Case & field studies methods used: Participant observation, Interviews Type of data: Quantitative Qualitative Ultimate goal: Objective search for Social justice & people’s well-being “truth” Effects of personal politics on scientific beliefs (Pastore, 1949) - Did a study on the nature vs. Nurture debate. - Found that 11 out of 12 who believed more in nurture were liberal. - Found that 11 out of 12 who believed more in nature were Conservative in their background. Good research - What constitutes “good” research within the constructionist approach? • Socially responsible and useful • Some argue that social scientists have an obligation to advocate for social justice • Research is judged to be “good” if it improves the social condition of humanity • Declaring your interest: at the beginning of the methods section or end of literature review (in our research proposal & paper), we need to talk about our own biases. Qualitative vs. Quantitative Exploratory Limited Theory generation Hypothesis testing Holistic Isolated and specific Interpretative Statistical Text/verbal Numeric Small, intensive Large, ‘easy’ Unique = important Unique = outliers - Uniqueness: unique aspects are important to qualitative research. - We are looking for people who are different from each other. - When we find uniqueness, you don't get rid of them from the data (as you might in quantitative research w/outliers), you find out what makes them & their perspective different What qualitative research tries to do - Offer a debate and insight (not a fixed truth) - Qualitative researchers tend to hold themselves more accountable to the group they are interviewing. They are concerned w/social justice. - Be the ‘interpretive’study of a specified issue or problem - Employ Multi-method approaches - Be based on analysis and interpretation that is complex, detailed and contextual - Address ethical issues - There is ‘personal involvement’in an issue • There is personal involvement (a lot of people want to find out more about an issue that they personally have been involved in). - Travers reading: qualitative research can have more of an impact in criminology than quantitative. “Striking the balance” - Need BOTH types of methods and data - Qualitative data informative for developing quantitative measures and scales - “triangulation” The continuum of qualitative analysis i. Content analysis - Abasic analysis that involves counting how often an ‘instance’occurs or sorting data. - e.g., an open ended question on a written survey Slater (2005) - Examined the commodification of violence on the internet - Studied the content of 166 websites - e.g., How is the violent content advertised and marketed? • Anarchist • Animal • Combat • Horrific • Hateful • Humorous • Sexual • Unrecognisable • Mixture of all ii. Thematic Analysis - Thematic analysis shares many of the principles and procedures of content analysis - More exploratory then content analyses – it aims to ‘understand’rather than ‘know’the data • Not interested in the freq. occurrence (count) - Data is read looking for ‘themes’that arise • Is about looking for themes & trying to understand what is going on about a particular phenomenon. EXAMPLE: The Interplay of Risk Behaviours & Risk Conditions in HIV Transmission - 16 Participants: • 8 men and 8 women • All were intravenous drug users • Age range: 21 - 56 years • Hep C, HIV + status varied • Traumatic backgrounds - Risk Behaviours • Sexual Practices  Unprotected sexual intercourse • Sharing Behaviour  Direct sharing: syringes  Indirect sharing: sharing injection-associated equipment (e.g., cookers) - Looking at the behaviours they are engaging in and WHY they are still engaging in them ThematicAnalysis: Risk Conditions - Structural/Environmental Factors • Limited availability of sterile injecting equipment  Our needle exchange programs don't have enough needles available to give each person a new needle each time they use • Poverty, low income, inadequate or absent housing, and unemployment - Social Factors • Pressure to share, peer influence • Risk be
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