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An Introduction to Qualitative Research.docx

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Sociology 3307F/G
Georgios Fthenos

An Introduction to Qualitative Research 15 Jan 14 What is it? - focused on meaning  words, gather meaningful data (specific, detailed) - examine perceptions, motivations, and experiences that are significant (meaningful) to people - rather than focusing on numbers/stats., qualitative research analyzes texts (written words, images), talk, and interactions - examines social processes, not probabilities or predictions - creative craft, not series of techniques; no “recipe” for qualitative research Dimensions: - ontology  beliefs about nature of reality - epistemology  beliefs about how valid knowledge can be gained (what is perceived to be real) - theory  account of social reality; provides framework for analyzing data collected from the social world - methodology  theory of how knowledge building should occur; connects philosophical framework with methods used - positivist  social world is patterned; researchers seek to discover causes/effects - interpretive  social world is constructed through meaningful action  understand actor’s motivations, perceptions, experiences - critical  social world is constructed through power relations; unveil, critique power/privilege - deductive (post-positivist): test theory against data - inductive (critical, interpretive) generate theory from data Research Paradigms: - qualitative/quantitative  rooted in philosophical traditions with different epistemological/ontological assumptions - epistemology  is the theory of knowledge about the assumptions and beliefs that we have about the nature of knowledge - how do we inquire about the world? - ontology  philosophy of existence and the assumptions and beliefs that we hold about the nature of being and existence - paradigms  models or frameworks that are derived from a worldview or belief system about the nature of knowledge/existence - they are shared by a scientific community and guide how a community of resources act with regard to inquiry - methodology  how we gain knowledge about the world or “an articulated, theoretical informed approach to “the production of data” - positivist: - assumes that there are real world objects apart from the human knower (objective reality) - presentation epistemology  assumes people can know this reality and use symbols to describe/explain this objective reality - separation of subject/object  claim to ascertain truth (100% bias free) - predict and control  assumes that there are general patterns of cause and effect that can be used as a basis for predicting/controlling natural phenomenon (goal = discover patterns) - empirical verification  assumes we can rely on our perceptions of the world to provide us with accurate data - research has been assumed to be value-free; if strict methodological protocols are followed, research will be free of subjective bias and the objective with be achieved - positive approaches rely heavily on experimental and manipulative methods; ensures that there is a distance between the subjective biases of the researcher and the objective reality she/he studies - hypothesis generating/testing - quantitative methods are used - evaluate the research: - validity  valid measure approach (does it study what it should?) - reliability  do you get the same answer every time? - generalizability  apply the study in the real world? - interpretive paradigms: - developed as a critique of p
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