CS235 Final Exam Review.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Communication Studies
Andrew Herman

CS235 Final Exam Review Qualitative Methods of Storying the Social, Part I - Move from social facts to social constructionism as the dominant model of research and analysis - Move from a concern with objectively measuring the social to interpretively understanding (Verstehen) the social - Move from quantitative methods (statistics, surveys) to qualitative methods (ethnography, interviews) - Social sciences cannot be modeled on the natural sciences - Inductive rather than deductive; explanatory rather than inferential - Go out and find what people are doing then develop a “grounded theory” (Glaser and Strauss) - Interested in specific cases from multiple perspectives. Validity is grounded in localized truths of “experience”, not theoretical hypothesis or concepts - Not concerned with replicating results (generalizability), but contributing to nuanced “thick descriptions” (Geertz) of social and cultural beliefs and practices - To understand society and culture we need to understand both within the flow of everyday life as rich experience and dynamic event - Quantitative methodologies cannot do this! - This model is based upon the conceptualization of the symbolic construction of social reality through the materiality of culture and cultural practices Culture: - Culture is not a free floating set of ideas or beliefs, nor is it exemplified only by a canon of great works of art or literature - Culture is broadly the production of meaning or signifying practice that happens at every level of the social and at every moment within cultural process - Culture is both noun and verb, artifacts and action - Definition: The set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic The social and the textual: - Textual: something that can be read, how something is talked about - The social: how suicide, for example, is integrated into our lives - Gray locates the nexus of culture as noun and verb, as embodying the symbolic and the material, at the intersection of the social and the textual 1 - Popular media forms and other texts are entwined in our everyday lives, they provide a shared social and cultural currency and their images, catch-phrases and characters often settle into the sediment of popular memory - The perceived division between the social and the textual can be seen more generally within the structures of the academy - It can be defined as the split between the social sciences and the humanities - It assumes different objects of study and has developed particular concepts and methods - The intersection of the social and the textual is the basic for what Gray calls “lived experience” - Best understood as the bringing together of biography and history Experience and the articulation of identity: - Experience is expressed and articulated through language - How we account for ourselves how well tell our story or present ourselves to others speak of our place within a particular social and historical context - C. Wright Mills in The Sociological Imagination argues that lived experience is best understood as confluence of biography and history - Gray terms this confluence the articulation of lived experience - One of the central material and symbolic cultural practices of articulating lived experience is narrative and story-telling - Narrative is a cultural form; story-telling is the performance of a narrative - From the interpretivist model, the only appropriate methodologies for understanding how the social are storied are qualitative ethnography/interviews Active audiences: - Argues that media audiences do not just receive information passively but are actively involved, often unconsciously, in making sense of the message within their personal and social contexts - Decoding of a media message may therefore be influenced by such things as family background, beliefs, values, cultures, interests, education and experiences - Gray explains that interviews were conducted to see what people were interested in - Companies want to know how people engage with the product or how the product engages with the people Immersion in the field/entering the field: - Entering specific and bounded worlds of lived experience and the articulation of the social and the textual - Sam Dunn in Metal: A Head banger‟s Journey 2 - Researchers are said to have immersed themselves in the setting studied (or their data), if they‟ve spent a long time in the field, or studying their data, in turn getting to know it very well - They take a liking to it, becomes enjoyable and learn it effortlessly after a while (become experts) - Ethnography: - Highly descriptive writing about people - Ethnographers collect data through observation with people and interaction with them as these people carry on their normal activities in their usual setting - Ethnographic accounts may describe theories that explain certain behaviors that were observed - Ethnos – of the people - Graphos – to write - Writing the story of the people - You enter the field from the outside and work to the inside - Observations may be: o Structured (strict interview protocols) o Unstructured (loose methods) o The aim is to be “naturalistic” (in natural setting) - Participation: what people say - Observation: what the researcher sees - Role/position of the researcher may be: o External (to the group/culture under study) o Internal (participant in the group/culture o May be varying degrees of participation - Identity of researcher and nature of research may be: o Overt (identity of the researcher is known at least to some participants) o Covert (identity of researcher is disguised) o Varying degrees, rather than a neat dichotomy Participant-Observation: - Participation (just participating, recall with memory after the fact – concert) - Observation - Participant as observer (covert) - Observation as participant (overt, we know who the researcher is (Sam Dunn) - Just „being around‟ (unfocused, hanging out) - Method most commonly adopted by ethnographers 3 - Researcher participates in the life of a community or group, while making observations of member‟s behaviours Anthropological Strangeness: - The ethnographer tries to treat the familiar world of members strange to explore its social and cultural construction Members and Strangers: - Members treat/see the world how it is to them (not influenced) - Strangers participate and adapt after being confused - Stranger (ethnographer) enters field or community and makes the familiar strange or unfamiliar so he‟s able to understand and conduct research Thick Description: - A thick description of a human behavior is one that explains not just the behavior, but its context as well, so that the behavior becomes meaningful to the outsider - Pack a lot of data - We see his/her surroundings in detail - Possibly learn about tendencies, thoughts, and feelings - For example: when someone winks, is his eyelid rapidly contracting OR is he/she trying to communication that something is in motion Interview Society: - This term signifies that we live in a society in which interviews seem central to making sense of our lives - In society, selves and identities are constructed through interviews - The popularity and use of the interview form; in talk shows, news interviews, celebrity profiles, film is an example of this Conclusion: - Qualitative methods give us a more holistic and organic perspective that is not divorced from the lives of the people who understand and interpret the phenomenon - Qualitative methodology focuses on the nexus between the textual and the social - Textual: something that can be read, how something is talked about - The social: how suicide, for example, is integrated into our lives - The two meet in The Bridge 4 Qualitative Methods of Storying the Social, Part II Three Fundamental questions (ontological, epistemological, methodological) or research: Ontology: - WHAT WE KNOW - Study of nature being - Influenced by culture - What can be known? - How the meaning of suicide is symbolically constructed in The Bridge? - What is a “cock block” in Go Ugly Early? Epistemology: - HOW WE KNOW - How is the meaning of something symbolically constructed? - What is the relationship of the knower to the known? - Who are we in the research process? - Are the markers of The Bridge interpreters or voyeurs? - Does the presence of Annette Markham influence the performance of masculinity in Go Ugly Early - It is to acknowledge what we bring to our research in terms of our lived experience, but also our politics and our intellectual frameworks Methodological: - How do we find things out? - What specific techniques of qualitative research do we use: ethnographic observation? - Film and visual documentation? - Focus groups? - Qualitative interviews? - Life histories? - What kind of methods do I need to employ in order to know, or to put me in a position of being able to interpret and analyze this aspect of the social word? - This is where you being to think about what kind of data you are going to need to collect‟ What is interviewing: - Interviewing is one of the primary methods of qualitative research - It is a process of “dyadic” relational communication - With a predetermined purpose - Designed to explore the meaning of social and cultural practices - Involving the asking and answering of questions Evaluative criteria in qualitative research 5 - Reliability: o Concerned with techniques of research design which produce reliable consistency o Different researchers conducting the same study would obtain consistent data - Validity: o Social Fact o Accuracy of the picture presented of the subject and context of study o Question of the validation of the interpretations made of the data o How the author accounts and puts together his data - Representativeness: o Level of how well or how accurately something reflects upon a sample - Generalizability: o Could the results of study be useful in a different setting? o Result
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