Soan3070 – Post Reading Week
February 26 , 2013
Content Analysis& Unobtrusive Methods
Content Analysis & Unobtrusive Methods
• Analyzing textual and visual media/records
• Two general approaches:
o 1. Analyzing content that already exists
o 2. Generating content for later analysis
• Are we (the researchers) generating the media before using it?
o If yes: How can the process of generation/recording shape the data we collect?
And, ethical concerns
1. Analyzing Content that Already Exists
• Not involving humans in the data collection process ▯REB implications
o May be a good preliminary method
• Text example (p.179): the feminine ideal body
o Body shape changes over time
o Means of attaining the ideal body
Example: Clinical Trial Ads
• Images and ideas portrayed by these ads?
Content Analysis +Other Methods
• Content analysis helping to create better (more meaningful) interview/focus group
Our Hypothetical Project on Real Life Superheroes:
• Is content analysis potentially useful?
o What kind of content o Why?
• Gender and ethnicity stereotyping in visual images and patterns of HIV/AIDS
representation ▯how HIV/AIDS information was being taught to children/teenagers
• Sampling the source and the images within the source
• Systematic, thoughtful
• Moving images (film, television)
• Historical documents
o Primary source difficulties the farther back you go
• Written, verbal, nonverbal communication (not just the words – also the process of
o Language, body language, eye contact…
o Example: Gender and language qualifiers (study in 80’s found that women tend
to use qualifiers over men – less assertive approach)
• Generating visual/audio material to later analyze
Photographs in the Field
• Illustrate something
• Rapport and reciprocity
o Special functions
o Close friends
o Important resources
o A way to share research • Giving a photo book to the community is something you can do
Photos as Data
• Visual records; visual diaries
• Visual records – representation of some aspect of social reality that has been ‘captured’
• Be aware of:
o Sense of authority
o Context? Is the photo staged (by photographer or subjects)
• Cameras don’t take pictures, people do:
• By applying different lenses to content, how do we read them differently?
• Argument: photographs are malleable (multiple meanings, depending on the viewer)
• Hungry Planet: What the world Eats (Book)
• Images + stories about the differences in what families around the world eat
o Image of food eaten in a week
March 5 , 2013
• More actively including participants in the process of designing projects & data
o Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
o Participatory Action Research (PAR)
• Pauline Peters (1996:22) o Participation “ideally connotes the ability of people to share, influence, or control
design, decisionmaking, and authority in development projects and programs
which affect their lives and resources”
Issue of power – re: who designs, controls, shares, etc.
Raises a concern about confidentiality when there is a large research pool
because of the amount of researchers who have access to the raw data
What’s the Point?
• We organize research to reflect interests/priorities/concerns of research population
• Can help people share knowledge with each other, not just with the researcher
• A lot of participatory theory emerged from development research
o Need to ask people what development means to them ▯local knowledge/priorities
• Working WITH
o The priorities, knowledge, voices “from below”
• Instead of assuming what people need and doing it, must work with people to develop
what they need
o Might build a community a bridge when they really would
• Chambers: (assigned article) [slide shows a picture of research in the field]
• Participatory Rural Appraisal a family of research approach/methods that enable rural
inhabitants to enhance, share, analyze their knowledge; to make plans and act on those
• Image credit: RSDA
• A reversal of learning ▯learning from people
• Learning progressively
• Seeking diversity – looking for exceptions, oddities, dissenters
• Critical awareness of our own behaviour/biases, working to minimize them
Participatory Action Research • Plan, Action, Observe, Reflect
• Make a research plan; undertake that plan and institute practical action observe the
results; reflect ▯Plan again (to make improvements)
• A cycle
• Image: MacIsaac 1995 [diagram of the cycle]
• Draw on complexity and sophistication of people’s social, technical knowledge ▯the
o Providing the space for people to share knowledge in ways
understandable/interesting to them
Specific Methods (continued)
• Chambers – PRA and RRA methods (starting on page 959), including
o Participatory mapping and modeling
o Oral histories and ethno biographies
o Daily time use analysis
o Wealth ranking
Understanding Economic Status
• How do we get at this kind of data?
• Sometimes asking about economic status can be uncomfortable so there are other ways of
o How much do you spend a week on something (rather than asking how much you
o Assessing what they have (ex. house size, cars, where they live) (problem with
this is you don’t know if they are in dept or have huge savings)
o Asking how they classify themselves
• Allows local people to determine what factors indicate levels of wealth (or well being) ▯
instead of outsiders determining what makes ‘wealth’
o Sometimes outsider indicators of wealth are not applicable o Sometimes you must assess (ex. grass roof vs. tile roof, or whose children attend
Wealth Ranking (continued)
• Participants determine relative rank
o Why did you group that household as ‘poor’ but this one as ‘very poor’?
o What makes the difference?
o And why did you group yourself into the ‘very poor’ category?
• Cannot always assume though (in a community where you see a nice looking home and
shabby home, one may assume the nicer home is wealthier – however, the shabbier one
may be because they may own more land for example)
• Participatory wealth ranking allows us to see the differences that emerge, rather than
relying on (externallycreated) fixed categories
o Increases depth of our understanding
Participatory Mapping & Modeling
• Participants create different kinds of maps about aspects of the landscape
o Not to scale, or an accurate representation of topography
o About visual representation of aspects of their community
o Topic depends on research
Participatory Mapping & Modeling (continued)
• Done low tech
o Adjust the materials we use to reflect materials locally available
Pencils and paper?
Sticks and sand?
Rock, glasses, etc.?
Using this Method
• How has your village changed from when you were younger?
Triangulation • This is an interesting way to triangulate data from other sources
• Engagement – people have to be willing to spend the time of this
• Great method – not enough by itself though (more for elaboration of other methods)
March 7 , 2013
Participatory Research Approaches
Daily time use analysis
• What participants do throughout the day
Useful if interested in time different groups spend on different activities
(division of labour issues, for example)
What a person is doing
How much time they take to do it
• Division of household chores in Guelph
• Women's household work in developing countries
• Work/Life Balance research
• How participatory are participatory methods?
David Mosse (anthropologist): participation is shaped by a number of
potential factors as gender, power, the researcher themselves
Participatory approaches may actually end up excluding some
people UNLESS we think reflexively
What does this mean?
• Including people in a research plan doesn't mean they necessarily contribute
Need to understand the cultural context and social differences that might
mean some people are silenced while others dominate
Age, caste, class, gender, educational background...
• Must recognize that communities are diverse... don't have one coherent set of
People with different priorities/experiences may not have equal
community power and voice
Something billed as a "community priority" might reflect the private
interests of one powerful, vocal group
• Critiques have led researchers to be an even more reflective in terms of how they
use participatory techniques
Recognition that there may be degrees of participation that can change
over time Wrap up
• Participatory methods have led to the recognition that "...villagers have a greater
capacity to map, model, observe, quantify, estimate, compare, rank, score, and
diagram than outsiders have generally supposed them capable of" (Chambers
Selfevident today, but this wasn't always the case!
Some comments on the Sol
• The person who graded the Sol will also grade the final proposal take the
opportunity to meet with us!
• Common issues