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Qualitative Social Research Methods. SOCP0062 Leah Wild Week 1. Week 1 outline. Overview of course - handbook Review of qualitative methods Choosing a topic for the assignment Working in groups. Qualitative research. Linked with phenomenology Gives in-depth insights

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week 1 outline
Week 1 outline
  • Overview of course - handbook
  • Review of qualitative methods
  • Choosing a topic for the assignment
  • Working in groups
qualitative research
Qualitative research
  • Linked with phenomenology
  • Gives in-depth insights
  • Explores the meaning people give to life
  • Explores agency rather than structure
  • Concerned with `processes' rather than outcomes
qualitative research continued
Qualitative research - continued
  • Involves topic guides – un/semi-structured
  • In-depth interviews
  • Participant observation
  • Group discussions
  • Analysis of secondary data
  • Computer analysis of data
range of qualitative methods marshall and rossman 1999
Primary Methods



In-depth interviewing

Case studies

Reviewing documents

Secondary Methods

Life Histories and Narrative Inquiry

Historical analysis

Films, videos and photographs


Questionnaires and surveys

Range of qualitative methodsMarshall and Rossman (1999)
weaknesses of qualitative research
  • Reliability
  • Meaningless Information
  • Time Consuming
  • Representativeness & Generalisability
  • Objectivity & Detachment
  • Ethics
advantages of interviews
  • Flexibility
  • High response rate
  • Observe non-verbal behaviour
  • Correct misunderstandings
  • Record spontaneous answers
  • Control over times, data and place
  • Complex questions
disadvantages of interviews
  • Costly and time consuming
  • Interviewer bias
  • Less anonymity
  • Less effective at measuring trends, patterns etc.
  • Data
  • Investigator
  • Theory
  • Methodological
choosing a topic for your assignment
Choosing a topic for your assignment
  • Isolate a new/interesting research issue
  • Not just descriptive
  • ‘Experts’ vs ‘ordinary people’
  • People you know vs people you don’t
  • Comparative analysis.
  • Views on a policy or proposed legislation.
  • Ethnomethodological inquiry.
isolate a new interesting research issue
Isolate a new/interesting research issue
  • Social/policy issue (not too sensitive)
  • Substantive/policy issues
    • Fatherhood
    • Disability, ethnicity
    • Work-life balance
    • Workplace harassment
    • Employee participation
    • Political apathy/protest
    • Shopping and consumerism
  • Narrow down the issue and consider new angle
non policy oriented research
Non Policy Oriented research.

Subjects to consider.

  • Lifestyle practices and Culture.
  • Identity.
  • Belief and belonging.
  • Responses to current events.
not just descriptive
Conceptual frameworks

Risk and insecurity

Time and space

Identity and ‘difference’

Lifestage transition -rites of passage - critical turning points

Structure and agency - power

Policy frameworks

The making of policy

From policy to implementation

Critiquing a particular policy

Not just descriptive
example research questions
Example research questions
  • What is the impact of marriage/parenthood on views of gender identity?
  • To what extent has the Disability Discrimination Act changed employers’ practices?
  • To what extent does insecurity/risk affect attitudes to employment/family life/health/ identity?
  • An Examination of Attitudes to Female body hair in Contemporary Western Society.
choosing the interviewees
Choosing the interviewees
  • Can be different types of people
  • Males and females.
  • Different age groups.
  • Teachers and Students.
  • ‘Experts’ vs ‘ordinary people’
    • Experts give opinions at second-hand not individual in-depth experiences
    • ‘Lay’ views likely to be very different.
  • People you know vs peoples you don’t
people you know vs peoples you don t

Easy to gain co-operation

Rapport and trust already established

Not starting from scratch

Respondent will be open and honest?



Prior bias

Prior knowledge

They will know your views

They will not want to look bad

People you know vs peoples you don’t
working in groups
Working in groups
  • Forming a group
  • Group rules
  • Group contract
  • Group journal
  • Behaviour in groups
  • Referee system
possible group rules
Possible group rules
  • Turn up to meetings
  • Start and end on time
  • Have an agenda
  • No interrupting/putting people down
  • Encourage everyone to speak
  • Everyone to do as agreed and keep to deadlines
week 1 review
Week 1 review
  • Overview of course - handbook
  • Review of qualitative methods
  • Choosing a topic for the assignment
  • Working in groups