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Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
Representation And Research
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Representation And Research


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  • 1. Communicating Culture researching lived experience
  • 2. Research
    • Examine the nature of research
    • Observation and writing
  • 3. Physical Description (1)
      • Select a section of this room which is immediately across from where you are sitting. Describe this section of the room in detail. I’ll ask you to stop after 15 minutes.
  • 4. Doing Research: producing social knowledge; communicating culture
    • Question: Aren’t some research methods better than others?
      • Research cannot be reduced to purely method – how we go about collecting information
      • Doing research is an attempt to understand social reality in the production of social knowledge about the world
      • In communicating that knowledge to others we are involved in communicating culture
      • The kind of knowledge/culture we produce ultimately depends on our assumptions about the world – our particular worldview
  • 5. Doing Research: producing social knowledge; communicating culture
    • Different models of reality lead to different theories of representation. These in turn lead to:
      • Propositions about what reality is: what we believe to exist – ontology
      • Ways to establish what can be accepted as real: how do we validate our knowledge – epistemology
      • Strategies for validating the claims
        • Methodology – how are we to discover and validate what we think exists?
      • Techniques for collecting data
        • Methods – ways to generate materials
  • 6. Doing Research: producing social knowledge; communicating culture
      • Subjectivist and Objectivist Approaches
        • The subjectivist and objectivist approaches in the handout denote extreme idealised positions
        • In practice researchers occupy a range of positions in between
        • Qualitative researchers tend to be more sympathetic to the subjectivist approach
        • [see handout]
  • 7. Doing Research: producing social knowledge; communicating culture
      • Four methods used in qualitative research:
        • Observation – situations, people
        • Textual analysis – documents, various media
        • Interviews – direct talk
        • Transcripts – transcription of audio/video recordings
      • Methods are techniques which take on specific meanings according to the methodology in which they are used.
        • SM imposes meaning: QR discovers meaning
        • SM insensitive to social nature of language: QR is a learning language approach
        • SM use third hand information: QR attempts to get at first hand information
        • [See Handout]
  • 8. One popular version of ethnography
    • Preference for naturally occurring data – observation rather than experimentation; unstructured rather than structured interviews
    • Avoiding concepts, theories and pre-conceived ideas at an early stage
    • Emphasis on meanings rather than numbers
    • Preference for meanings rather than behaviour – understanding the world from the participants viewpoint
    • A concern for the ‘micro’ features of social life
  • 9. One popular version of ethnography
    • Reflexivity – acknowledging the role of the researcher as integral to the production of knowledge/culture
    • Anti-realism – problematising representation. Can we accurately represent reality? What is the relation between social reality and language?
  • 10. Summary
    • Qualitative work:
      • Is holistic
      • Looks at relationships within a system or subculture
      • Referes to the personal, face-to-face interactions in a given setting
      • Is focused to understand the social setting
      • Demands equal time in the field and in analysis
      • Incorporates a complete description of the researcher
      • Relies on the researcher as a research tool
      • Is responsible to ethical concerns
      • Acknowledges ethical issues in fieldwork
      • Considers, in many cases, participants as co-researchers in the project
      • Janesick (2004): 7
  • 11. Physical Description (1)
    • Discussion
      • How did you approach this exercise?
      • How is this exercise like the previous? Unlike?
      • What was the most difficult part of the exercise?
  • 12. Physical Description (2)
    • Select an area on campus to observe. Set aside 30 minutes of quiet time to describe it. Set reasonable goals for the description. For example, select one part of the library or one section of the student union.
    • Again, take down your notes in fieldwork form and then type them up in report format.
  • 13. Reading …
    • Hall, S., Ed. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London, Sage. pp. 13-64
    • Van Maanen, J. (1988). Tales of the Field, On Writing Ethnography . London, University of Chicago Press. Ch. 3
    • Tedlock, B. (2000). Ethnography and Ethnographic Representation. The Handbook of Qualitative Research . N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln. London, Sage : 455-486.
    • Fetterman, D. M. (1998). Ethnography: Step by Step . London, Sage: Ch 1. Also available online at:
    • Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson (1995). Ethnography: Principles in Practice . London, Routledge: 1-22