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Chapter 14

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

March 4, 2013: Chapter 14 Nonreactive Qualitative Research Pages 294, 300-305, 307-312 Research questions appropriate for historical-comparative research  i.e. answering questions of how major social institutions (medicine) have developed and changed over time  suited for examining combinations of social factors that produce specific outcome o also appropriate for comparing entire social systems to see what is common across societies and what is different; comparing same social processes and concepts in different cultural or historical contexts  historical-comparative research can strengthen conceptualization and theory building (by looking at historical events or diverse cultural contexts, a researcher can generate new concepts and broaden his/her perspective) Logic of Historical-Comparative Research  is there a distinct historical-comparative method and logic? Logic of Historical-Comparative Research and Quantitative Research (Quantitative vs. Historical-Comparative)  both positivist, quantitatively oriented researchers and interpretive (or critical), qualitatively oriented researchers study historical or comparative issues  positivists researchers reject idea of distinct historical-comparative method; measure variables, test hypotheses, analyze quantitative data and replicate research to discover generalizable laws that stand against test of time and place o no difference between quantitative social and historical-comparative research  social research mostly examines social life in present in a single place (place of researcher)  historical-comparative research can be organized along three dimensions: o is the focus on what occurs in one nation, a small set of nations, or many nations? o Is the focus on a single time period in the past, across many years, or a recent time period? o Is the analysis based primarily on quantitative or qualitative data? Data and Evidence in Historical Context Types of Historical Evidence:  History refers to events of the past, record of the past, and a discipline that studies the past  Historiography method of doing historical research or of gathering and analyzing historical evidence  Historical social science is a part of historical-comparative research  Four types of historical evidence/data: o Traditionally rely heavily on primary sources o Often use secondary sources or the different data types in combination Primary Sources  Defn: qualitative data or quantitative data; evidence about past social life or events that was created and used by the persons who actually lived in the historical period  i.e. letters, newspapers, articles of clothing, pictures and so on  found in archives, in private collections, museums and family closets  published and unpublished written documents most important type of primary source; found in original form or preserved in some way  criticism: written pieces of work written by elite or those in official social institutions Secondary Sources  qualitative data and quantitative; information about events or settings is documented or written later by historians or others who did not directly participate in the events or setting **writings of specialist historians who have spent years studying primary sources** Running Records  special type of existing statistics research because the files, records, or documents are maintained in a relatively consistent manner over a period of time  maintained by organizations  i.e. file in country church that contains record of every marriage and death Recollections  defn: words or writings of people about their life experiences after some time has passed; writings based on memory of past, but may be stimulated by review of past objects, photos, personal notes or belongings **based on memory**  can be in form of memoirs, autobiographies, or interviews  often distorted in ways that primary sources are not because they are based on memory  oral history: type of recollection in which a researcher interviews a person about the events, beliefs, or feelings in the past that were directly experienced (as opposed to written documents) o this approach valuable for those who do not have tradition of written recorded documents or non-elite groups that cannot read/write Research with Secondary Sources Uses and Limitations:  problems of inaccurate historical accounts and lack of studies in areas of interest  such sources cannot be used to test hypotheses  post facto (after-the-fact) explanations cannot meet positivist criteria of falsifiability because few statistical controls can be used and replication is not possible Potential Problems:  one problem is that historians rarely present theory-free, objective “facts”  historians selectively choose some information from a plethora of research but the historical- comparative researcher is unaware of how this was done(the information that was left out could have been relevant for the H-C researcher’s purposes)  another problem is the organization of evidence o traditional historians organize evidence as narrative history(type of writing about a historical setting in which the writer attempts to “tell a story” by following chronological order, describing particular people and events, and focusing on many colourful deta
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