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Lecture 3

SOC221H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Discourse Analysis, Focus Group, Participant Observation

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Shyon Baumann

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SOC221 Lecture 3
Qualitative methods provide qualitative data
o In-depth interviews, focus groups, oral history
o Field research (ethnography and participant observation)
o Discourse analysis
Qualitative Analysis
o The nonnumeric examination and interpretation of observations
Numbers are much clearer
Qualitative analysis vs. quantitative analysis
Qualitative is much more creative
Interpretive, but make sure we have enough
Some goals of qualitative analysis
o Empirical exploration
o Seeing from perspective of others
o Providing depth to statistical relationships: how and why are
variables related
o Help theory construction
o Description of things that cannot be expressed numerically
o Idiographic causal explanation
o Make sense of or interpret the empirical patterns within data
or evidence (induction)
Different ways to look for patterns

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o Frequencies
Frequencies of appearances
o Magnitudes
Higher magnitude (what is highly there)
o Causes
How things are framed as causes
o Consequences
How things are framed as consequences
Reliability and Validity
o We want both
o In practice, most times, we need to trade off
o They produce the same result each time
o Reproducibility
Ex. Simple survey questions are often quite reliable (ex.
Name 5 shoe brands that you like)
Interview questions about complex concepts is a problem
(up for more interpretations hence less reliable)
o It is the finding you intend
o Valid measures accurately tell you what you want
o Sometimes our measures tell us something, but not exactly what
we think they do
Ex. “why do you like ____ bran of shoes?”
This is very difficult to answer with precision

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A single survey question would probably not be a
valid measure
o They might choose a choice that is the only
closest one but doesn’t accurately represent
their reason
Strengths of Qualitative Research Methods
o Validity of measures
o Flexibility
Don't have to decide the questions all at the beginning,
but instead can follow throughout
Can pick up on things you have not thought of in the
o Detailed and deep analysis
Weaknesses of Qualitative Research methods
o Reliability of measures
o Generalizability
o Weak testing of theory
o Can your results be extended beyond your study to other
individuals, groups, times, and places
o Increased by study scope, reliability, sample size
Tendencies in Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
o Qualitative methods qualitative data
o Quantitative methods quantitative data
o Qualitative researchers work inductively
o Quantitative researchers work deductively
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