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Lecture 9

Lecture 9: Qualitative Methods - Field Research

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Katie Stuart- Lahman

SOCB05 – Lecture 9 – July 11 2013 Qualitative Research Methods * Includes notes from guest lecturer Salina Abji Why Qualitative Field Research?  Social research “right where it happens”  Empathic understanding  Deeper understanding of social phenomena o Probing social life in its natural habitat o Not artificial like experiments are. o Not armchair philosophy (when you judge something from afar, without context and evaluate it from your own knowledge about things)  Good to study social processes over time as they happen, rather than reconstructing them in the future.  Data collecting AND theory gathering  Gathering research is demanding and deliberate. Requires sensitivity, understanding, and respect. Involves a lot of research. Ethnography or Participant Observation  Involves various theoretical techniques and applications.  Rooted in naturalism: observing events and people in a natural setting.  Aim for deep understanding of someone’s/community’s way of life.  Involve o Direct first hand observation o Note taking o … Sudhir Venkatesh Dude You’re a Fag Ethnography is used in business and marketing. Not just sociology and anthropology. Case Study Design  A case study is a focused, detailed investigation of a single instance of social phenomenon.  Not very common in qualitative field work  Not a mode of observation but a way to carry out research o Instead of a method for gathering data, it is a type of research design  Most case studies offer rich and detailed data about that case. Not trying to be representative. When is a case study appropriate?  With a unique and interesting story  When you want to provide context. Limitations  Can take a very long time  Sometimes lack scientific rigour  Not generalizable Theoretical Frameworks in Field Research  Extended Case Method o Application of reflexive science to ethnography, with 3 goals in mind:  Extract the general from the unique  Move from micro to macro  Connect present to the past in anticipation of the future o Completed by building on pre-existing theory o Allows sociologists to inform their field work with a pre- existing theory that is helpful when trying to combat existing inequality o Not a theory that is about collecting knowledge for knowledge sake. It is to fix problems and offer solutions.  Grounded Theory o Derives theory from analysing patterns and themes discovered through observational data o An inductive type of research. o Go into the field to do research, then go home and do codin and data analysis, then go back to do more research, then go home, etc. etc. o Does not begin with preconceived ideas about the topic o Criticised for not being structured enough. Why conduct field research on social movements?  What it can involve: o Observing a public events.  Example: protests, marches, and forums. o Participating in social justice work  Example: Grassroots organizing, volunteering. o Working with communities: sharing your research, contributing your skills, and collaborating.
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