Week 9 10/30/2013
Involves an inductive view of the relationship between theory & research.
•Begins with collection of data used to develop theories, hypothesis, & concepts.
Interpretivist – seeks to understand the social world through people’s interpretations of it.
Constructionist – understand social life to be an outcome of the interactions & negotiations
Naturalistic approach – minimize the disturbance they cause to the social world they study.
Ethnography/participant observation – 2 approaches – researcher immerses in a social
setting. Observing, listening to gain an understanding of their culture.
Qualitative interviewing – in-depth, semi-structured interviewing.
Focus groups – several people interviewed together.
Discourse – analysis of talk + other communications.
•The way language can create versions of reality.
Conversation analysis – analysis of talk (in naturally occurring situations) to uncover the
underlying structures in interaction that make social order.
•Ethnomethodology – concerned w/the way social order is established & maintained
Analysis of texts & documents.
Steps in qualitative research
a. General research questions
b. Selecting relevant site(s) & subjects
c. Collection of relevant data
i. Tighter specification of the research question.
ii. Collection of further data.
d. Interpretation of data
e. Conceptual & theoretical work.
f. Write up findings/conclusions.
Important for qualitative research – how the theory & concepts of the study relate to the research data.
Grounded theory – common approach – use data to generate theory.
•Data collection & analysis proceed in a recursive fashion.
External reliability – degree to which a study can be replicated.
Internal reliability – members of the research team agree about what they see & hear.
Internal reliability – good match between the researcher’s observations & the theoretical ideas
•Strength of qualitative research.
External validity – degree to which findings can be generalized.
•Difficult b/c relying on small sample.
•Credibility – parallels internal validity – different people may interpret the social world in
oEnsure that the interpretations in the study ring true to the people observed.
Respondent/member validation – provide the participants w/an
account of their findings & request their feedback.
•Transferability – parallels external validity – doesn’t matter if the findings are true in some
other context. The research is extremely in-depth involving a small number of people.
oRather, should produce thick description – rich, detailed accounts of a group’s
•Dependability – parallels reliability – adopt an ‘auditing’ approach.
oKeep complete records of all phases of the research process & certify their
•Conformability – parallels objectivity – ensure the researcher has acted in good faith.
oPersonal values did not sway the conduct of the research or the findings.
Qualitative research relies on the notion of empathy.
•Take the role of the other.
•Helps to confirm or reject surface ideas. It involves the researcher to probe beneath the surface
to reach for answers that can only be attainable by the role of empathy.
Descriptive detail permits contextual understanding.
•Cannot understand the behaviour of members of a social group w/o acknowledgement of the
specific environment they operate in.
oBehaviours that emerge as absurd may appear fitting in the context it took place.
How patterns unfold overtime.
•How events develop; how different elements of social system – values, beliefs, behaviour –
Life history – biographical method – emphasizes inner experience of individuals & connections
w/larger societal events throughout the life.
•Reconstruct their life histories.
Prefer to keep structures to a minimum.
•To include life as it happens. Structures disable certain aspects of observation from entering
•Offers prospect of flexibility.
oCan change the direction easily.
Critiques say qualitative research is :
oDepends on what the researcher deems significant.
Can lead to bias as you become acquainted with another person.
•Difficult to replicate
oLittle to no structure. What is heard depends on the researcher & what they chose to
oBehaviour of the individuals may be dependent on the researcher’s
oImpossible to know if the findings can be applied to others.
Counter argument – purpose is NOT to generalize. Some research stands
alone. Provides in-depth knowledge of certain industry, society.
TABLE 8.1 on PAGE 144 *contrasts between Qualitative & Quantitative*