Berg, BL ~ Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences

Berg, Bruce L.
Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences

qualitative research takes much longer, requires greater clarity of goals during design stages, and cannot be analyzed by running computer programs.”
-> explains why it took me so long and two rounds of interviews

Qualitative research thus refers to the meanings, concepts, definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and descriptions of things. In contrast, quantitative research refers to counts and measures of things.

“methodology cannot be examined in a vacuum. Instead, the core substance of qualitative sociological practice, including methods, theory, and substantive interests, has to be explored (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975; Denzin, 1978; Lofland & Lofland, 1984; Miles & Huberman, [next page] 1994). In this text, data-gathering techniques are intentionally coupled with theoretical perspectives, linking method to theory. Data gathering, therefore, is not distinct from theoretical orientations. Rather, data are intricately associated with the motivation for choosing a given subject, the conduct of the study, and ultimately the analysis.”

“methods impose certain perspectives on reality”

“Every method is a different line of sight directed toward the same point, observing social and symbolic reality. By combining several lines of sight, researchers obtain a better, more substantive picture of reality; a richer, more complete array of symbols and theoretical concepts; and a means of verifying many of these elements. The use of multiple lines of sight is frequently called triangulation.”

“Qualitative research properly seeks answers to questions by examining various social settings and the individuals who inhabit these settings. Qualitative researchers, then, are most interested in how humans arrange [next page] themselves and their settings and how inhabitants of these settings make sense of their surroundings through symbols, rituals, social structures, social roles, and so forth.”

“Researchers using qualitative techniques examine how people learn about and make sense of themselves and others.”

high-quality qualitative research: “From my perspective, this means research that can stand the test of subsequent researchers examining the same phenomenon through similar or different methods.”

“Blumer (1969, p. 5) next explains: Symbolic interactionism . . . does not regard meaning as emanating from the intrinsic makeup of the thing, nor does it see meaning as arising through psychological elements between people. The meaning of a thing for a person grows out of the ways in which other persons act toward the person with regard to the thing- Their actions operate to define the thing for the person; thus, symbolic interactionism sees meanings as social products formed through activities of people interacting.”

“An important part of developing social scientific theory is first to define relevant concepts that will be used in a given research project.”

“There are a number of procedures used by qualitative researchers to analyze their data. Miles and Huberman (1994) identify three major approaches to qualitative data analysis: interpretative approaches, social anthropological approaches, and collaborative social research approaches.”

“Interpretative Approaches
This orientation allows researchers to treat social action and human activity as text. In other words, human action can be seen as a collection of symbols expressing layers of meaning. Interviews and observational data, then, can be transcribed into written text for analysis. How one interprets such a text depends in part on the theoretical orientation taken by the researcher. Thus, a researcher with a phenomenological bent will resist condensing data or framing data by various sorting or coding operations. A phenomenologically oriented researcher might, instead, attempt to uncover or capture the telos (essence) of an account. This approach provides a means for discovering the practical understandings of meanings and actions. Researchers with a more general interpretative orientation (dramaturgists, symbolic interactionists, etc.) are likely to organize or reduce data in order to uncover patterns of human activity, action, and meaning.”

About the author

Woitek Konzal

Producer, Consultant, Lecturer & Researcher. I love working where technology meets media in novel ways. Once, I even won an Emmy for digital innovation doing that. Be it for a small but exciting campaign about underground electronic music collectives or for a monster project combining two movies, various 360° videos, 72 ARG-like mini puzzles, and a Unity game, all wrapped up in one cross-platform app – I have proven my ability to adapt to what is required. This passion for novel technologies has regularly allowed me to cross paths with tech startups – an industry and philosophy I am all set to engage with more. I intensely enjoy balancing out my practical work with academic research, teaching, and consulting. Also, I have a PhD in Creative Industries, a M.Sc. in Business Administration, and love to kitesurf.

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