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Communication, Culture and Technology
Divya Maharajh

Chapter 5 Qualitative and Quantitative Orientations toward Research • One of the differences between the two styles comes from the nature of the data. • Soft-data: in the form of impressions, words, sentences, photos, symbols, and so forth – dictate different research strategies and data-collection techniques than hard data, which are in the form of numbers. • Qualitative researchers often rely on interpretive or critical social science, follow a nonlinear research path, and speak a language of “cases and contexts.” They emphasize detailed examinations of cases that arise in the natural flow of social life. • Quantitative researchers rely on a positivist approach to social science. They follow a linear research path, speak a language of “variables and hypotheses,” and emphasize measuring variables and testing hypotheses that are linked to general causal explanations. Linear and Nonlinear Paths • Linear: research that proceeds in a clear, logical, step-by-step straight line. It is more characteristic of a quantitative than a qualitative approach to social research. • Nonlinear research path: research that proceeds in a circular, back and forth manner. It’s more characteristic of a qualitative than a quantitative style to social research. With each cycle or repetition, a research collects new data and gains new insights. A cyclical path is suited for tasks such as translating languages, where delicate shades of meaning, subtle connotations, or contextual distinctions can be important. Preplanned and emergent research questions • First step to being a project is to select a topic. Then narrow it to a focused research question. Qualitative and quantitative researchers tend to adopt different approaches to turn a topic into a focused research questions for a specific study. • Qualitative researchers begin with vague/unclear research questions and the topic emerges slowly during the study. • Qualitative research style is flexible and encourages slowly focusing the topic throughout the study. Uses early data collection to guyde how they adjust the research question • Quantitative researchers narrow a topic into a focused question as a discrete planning step before finalizing the study design. • Quantitative researchers focus on a specific research problem within a broad topic. • Limitations include time, costs, access to resources, approval by authorities, ethical concerns, and expertise. Access to resources too. Qualitative design issues • The language of cases and contexts: they rarely use variables or test hypotheses, or try to convert social life into numbers. • Researchers examine motifs, themes, distinctions and ideas. They also use the inductive approach of GROUNDED THEORY • GROUNDED THEORY: a researcher builds theory by making comparisons. Based on observations of an event, always looking for similarities and differences. This theory isn’t used by all qualitative researchers though. • They hold that the meaning of social action/statement depends on the context in which it appears. • They examine the same case of set of cases over time. • Explanations or interpretations are complex and come in the form of an unfolding plot or a narrative story about particular people or events. • They pay attention to what happens, first, second, third and so on. • Their results end up being more meaningful because they try to make their data understandable to other people Quantitative design issues • The variable (an empirical value that can take on multiple values) is the central idea in quantitative research. They focus on the relationships of variables. • Attributes are the categories or levels of a variable • Variables are classified into three basic types, depending on their
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