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Qualitative Social Research Methods

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  1. Qualitative Social Research Methods SOCP0062 Leah Wild Week 1

  2. Week 1 outline • Overview of course - handbook • Review of qualitative methods • Choosing a topic for the assignment • Working in groups

  3. 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

  4. Qualitative research - continued • Involves topic guides – un/semi-structured • In-depth interviews • Participant observation • Group discussions • Analysis of secondary data • Computer analysis of data

  5. Primary Methods Participation Observation In-depth interviewing Case studies Reviewing documents Secondary Methods Life Histories and Narrative Inquiry Historical analysis Films, videos and photographs Vignettes. Questionnaires and surveys Range of qualitative methodsMarshall and Rossman (1999)

  6. WEAKNESSES OF QUALITATIVE RESEARCH • Reliability • Meaningless Information • Time Consuming • Representativeness & Generalisability • Objectivity & Detachment • Ethics

  7. ADVANTAGES OF INTERVIEWS • Flexibility • High response rate • Observe non-verbal behaviour • Correct misunderstandings • Record spontaneous answers • Control over times, data and place • Complex questions

  8. DISADVANTAGES OF INTERVIEWS • Costly and time consuming • Interviewer bias • Less anonymity • Less effective at measuring trends, patterns etc.

  9. TRIANGULATION • Data • Investigator • Theory • Methodological

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. Non Policy Oriented research. Subjects to consider. • Lifestyle practices and Culture. • Identity. • Belief and belonging. • Responses to current events.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Advantages: Easy to gain co-operation Rapport and trust already established Not starting from scratch Respondent will be open and honest? Disadvantages: Awkwardness Prior bias Prior knowledge They will know your views They will not want to look bad People you know vs peoples you don’t

  17. Working in groups • Forming a group • Group rules • Group contract • Group journal • Behaviour in groups • Referee system

  18. 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

  19. Week 1 review • Overview of course - handbook • Review of qualitative methods • Choosing a topic for the assignment • Working in groups