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INFO 272. Qualitative Research Methods 22 April 2008 Analysis Pointers
Admin • Office Hours today – 12:30 to 1:30 (this week only)
Outline • Weak and Strong Analysis • Fallacies of Interpretation
Weak analysis • Analytical findings should not simply reflect the initial constructs/concepts from your interview guide • Your analysis is not an exercise in verification
Example: Voices of the Poor • A massive, multi-national World Bank, qualitative interview project • Interview guide emphasizes ‘well-being’ and findings suggest that “again and again people distinguished between well-being and wealth.”
Strong analysis: Close attention to language • What distinctive terms does the interviewee introduce? • How do they divide up the social (and material) world into elements? • What relationship is posited between these elements?
Strong analysis: Typologies and Taxonomies • Gospel • Worship • Praise (faster beat) • Hi-life • Hip-life • Francophone • Gbeho • Hip-hop (American) • Rap (American) • R&B (American) • Kuul, Kulz, Cool • Celine Dion • Westlife(?) • Old School, Old Skuul, Old Skull • Phil Collins • Also contains Hi-life (but not hip-life) • acapella • Instrumental • Country Music • Reggae • Regular • Bob Marley • Lover’s Rock (i.e. Celine Dion, I will always love you, reggae style) [from interviews about music in Accra, Ghana]
Strong analysis: mapping out the diversity of instances • What are all the different forms of Internet scam stories – ‘success stories’ ‘protection stories’ ‘victimization stories’ • What are all the different instances of ‘technology’ in a museum and their different properties?
Strong analysis: ‘how’ questions • Not “what is the relationship between two variables?” – causation or correlation questions • Instead “How does this system work?” –process questions
Strong analysis: checking saying against doing • What people say is often not what they do • Even if you don’t carry out observation you can relate an interviewees concrete examples in interviews to their statements about general attitudes, opinions
Fallacies of Interpretation • The fallacy of the missing middle • “Internet Scammers: Robin Hood or Common Criminal?” • Suggesting a dichotomy between two terms that are not mutually exclusive or collectively exhaustive [Boyce, Chap. 18, Bauer and Gaskell]
Fallacies of Interpretation • The adversarial fallacy • That among two sides in a conflict, one is innocent and the other guilty (or truthful and fallacious) • Triangulation of multiple perspectives is not for the purpose of establishing an external truth or for ‘taking sides’ [Boyce, Chap. 18, Bauer and Gaskell]
Fallacies of Interpretation • Imputing motive and (in general) mind reading • You can’t definitively read motive from observed behavior • You only know what people’s intentions are when they tell you (and even this is imperfect)
Fallacies of Interpretation • The fallacy of disproportionate evidence • Available evidence is uneven • The State generates more documentation than ordinary people. • What perspectives are missing from your data? [Boyce, Chap. 18, Bauer and Gaskell]
Final Word • Stay close to your data! • Read and re-read your transcripts, fieldnotes, and any other data! • Don’t forget to code!