Qualitative content analysis in Media Psychology


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Qualitative Content Analysis session for MSc Media Psychology students at the University of Salford.

The aim of the session is to consider knowledge and research on a continuum from positivist to interpretivist, realist to relativist, quantitative to qualitative. It's taken me the best part of four years to get a handle on my epistemological and ontological positions so I am hoping my 'pain' will be someone else's 'gain'. This is the first lecture where my PhD work is really showing its worth for my teaching. Would be interested to hear others thoughts on how to teach and learn qualitative research methods.

A further aim is to expand what we consider to be 'data' and think about how we can generate new knowledge about new media in innovative and creative ways. Sometimes the more traditional methods don't translate very well to contemporary issues. The session therefore introduces the concept of researcher-as-bricoleur.

As an exercise to develop our interpretative skills, Plan B's ill Manors track will be analysed in the session from different perspectives. We will start with the text, then listen to the song, then watch the music video, then see the trailer to the film to build more complex interpretations of Plan Bs work and consider its relationship to the 'real world'. Hopefully the session will work will:)

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  • Hi, I was wondering if you could provide me with the full references which are cited in the above slideshow. Particularly Bernard (2000) referenced on slide 5. Thank you
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Qualitative content analysis in Media Psychology

  1. 1. Flickr: Community Photography now & then 1
  2. 2. Session Overview• Myth bust the quant-qual divide• Understand importance of epistemology and ontology• Move from dichotomies to continuums.• Explore the constructive nature of language• Find your interpretative, subjective lens• Interpret media content with two different methodologies.• Expand notion of what can be data.• Examine evaluative criteria for qualitative research. 2
  3. 3. Commonly held assumption… Quantitative and Qualitative methods are distinct from one another Quantitative Qualitative• the collection and analysis of • collecting and analysing data in numeric form information in as many forms, (Hughes, 2006) chiefly non-numeric, as possible (Hughes, 2006) 3
  4. 4. Flickr: marcinlachowicz.com An oversimplification • Both aim to understand the world • Both interpret data • Overlap Unhelpful • “…two opposing camps of researchers” (Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2005, p. 375) • “real consequences” for those in the qualitative camp (Abell & Walton, 2010, p. 688)For more on the quantitative-qualitative debate see Hammersley (1992); Newman & 4Benz, (1998); Wood & Welch, (2010); Whaley & Krane, (2011)
  5. 5. Method – a word with three meanings (Bernard, 2000)The epistemology guidesthe question A.K.A How can we Epistemology know A.K.A. Strategic Methodology choicesThe question guides A.K.A. Techniquesthe method Method 5
  6. 6. Flickr: CarbonNYC Epistemology: How can we know• “Epistemology is inescapable” (Carter & Little, 2007, p. 1319)• A branch of philosophy (Willig, 2001)• A theory of knowledge concerned with knowing (Sullivan, 2012).• Epistemology guides the research question (Whaley & Krane, 2011)• What counts as knowledge or ‘truth’? 6
  7. 7. Flickr: SebastianDooris Ontology: what can we know• Concerned with what is there to know (Willig, 2001)• Concerned with existence, what it means “to be” (Packer & Goicoechea, 2000)• At the core of this ‘debate’ is how researchers can theorise about a world in a way which is independent of our representations (i.e. language, perceptions, values, beliefs) of it (Nightingale & Cromby, 2002).• Realist (there is an external objective world that can be known through research)• Relativist (an external objective world is inaccessible to us, we can only know the world through our representations of it) 7
  8. 8. Epistemological continuumPositivism Interpretivism/ Constructionism Today, very few researchers would align themselves at the extreme ends of the continuum How far along the continuum are you prepared to travel? 8
  9. 9. Ontological continuumRealism Relativism Today, very few researchers would align themselves at the extreme ends of the continuum How far along the continuum are you prepared to travel? 9
  10. 10. Positivism Review literature• Only phenomena that are observable and Formulate Hypothesis agreeable to testing can claim a truth in the and design study world (Ashworth, 2008). Collect data• There is a unitary real world (aka realism).• Events of interest to psychologists (e.g. Carry out descriptive memory, identity, cognition, emotion) take statistics place in that ‘real’ world. Carry out statistical• A positivist epistemology pursues objective (inferential) tests and unbiased knowledge through Decide whether result ‘reductionist and empirically based, rational is significant or not enquiry’ (Jones, 2002, p. 247).• Subsequently, quantitative methodology Interpret and write up study often most appropriate. 10
  11. 11. Review literature Post-positivism Formulate Hypothesis• The limitations of positivism in terms of and design study developing new theory and dealing with complex human issues led to Collect data postpositivism.• In contemporary times, many scientists Carry out descriptive statistics and social scientists take a postpostivist stance to knowledge and research. Carry out statistical (inferential) tests• While positivism asserts that there is a reality out there to be studied and to be Decide whether result is significant or not captured in research, postpositivists argue that reality can only be Interpret and write up approximated (Guba, 1990). study 11
  12. 12. Social Constructionism SOCIETY 12
  13. 13. Flickr: lovelornpoetsKnowledge is relative to time and place 13
  14. 14. Flickr: Leonard John Matthews Social Constructionism• There is no one knowledge, there are knowledges (Burr, 2003)• No two people perceive, experience, and understand their worlds in the same way.• What we experience or perceive is not a direct reflection of objective environmental conditions (Willig, 2001). It is constructed in talk and interaction.• Research carried out from a constructionist standpoint identifies the ways in which people construct their social realities by taking into account the specific linguistic, cultural and historical influences.• ‘Critical’ approaches• Subsequently, qualitative methodology often most appropriate. 14
  15. 15. Research as continuum Ontology – what can we know?Realism Relativism Epistemology – how can we know?Positivism Interpretivism/ Constructionism Methodology – how can we find out?Quantitative Qualitative 15
  16. 16. Ensuring ‘quality’ in qualitative research It is the researcher’s responsibility to make clear their epistemological and ontological positions (Madill et al., 2000) This goes for (post)positivists too! 16
  17. 17. The Turn to Language Discursive/narrative Language does not simply describe our world From out of the heads of peopleinto the dialogues between them Language is action oriented, used to construct particular versions of eventsLanguage enables and constrains what can be said, by whom, where and when (Willig, 2001) 17
  18. 18. Discursive Psychology• A theoretical approach from social psychology which emphasises how knowledge is created in interactions between people rather than through direct perception of a true reality (SC).• Discourse analysis is the method most used by social constructionists.• Preference for naturally occurring text/data.• Usually ontological relativism but also critical realism. 18
  19. 19. Discursive Psychology: Two Strands or One? Individual StructureDiscursive Foucauldian DiscoursePsychology Analysis Eclectic Discursive Approach (Wetherell, 1998) 19
  20. 20. Analysing Discourse (no rule book, too many varieties!)Exploring language ‘in action’.Discursive Strategies – E.g. “I’m not racist, but”Interpretative Repertoires: reoccurring patterns – E.g. “you just get used to it” Flickr: drbexlLived Ideologies & Ideological Dilemmas – E.g. London as growing vs deprivedSubject Positions – E.g. “Your country needs you” 20
  21. 21. Discursive Psychology and Media Texts How are we beingWhat is all this constructed?media saying to How is theus? world being constructed? How does media impact upon our subjectivity/lived experience? 21
  22. 22. Flickr: Leonard John MatthewsSubjectivity• Problematic for discursive psychology• We are more than discourse (talk)• Ontological relativism = everything is socially constructed in language, what about embodiment, materiality, power? (Cromby & Nightingale, 2002)• What can we say about experience when we are reading for ‘suspicion’? (Ricoeur, 1981)• Suspicion - what is the text/speaker aiming to achieve?• Reading for ‘trust’… 22
  23. 23. Flickr: mohammadaliInterpretativePhenomenologicalAnalysis • An approach which aims to understand how people make sense of their worlds as they are experienced by people. • Sometimes referred to as ‘lived experience’. • Research is dynamic – researcher has an active role. • Often uses interviews & thematic analysis. • What people say is what they mean - ‘trust’. 23
  24. 24. How IPA works (for Smith & Osborn 2008)• Identifying the experiential claims, concerns and understandings of speaker (participant)• Look for themes in the first case (e.g. interview transcript), then across cases f• Dialogue between researcher and data – what does this mean?• Connect the themes (clusters) f• Organise – final structure of themes f• Test for coherence through reflexivity (tbd), discussions with others, supervision etc• Write up f d f 24
  25. 25. Move from a position of knowing to a position of understanding (Condie & Brown, 2009)What are the How doeseffects of music reflectlistening to youth culture?music?When Qs are Why are‘how’ and particular‘why’, qual forms ofhas the musicadvantage popular?(Maginn et al., 2008) 25 Flickr: Mike White Photo!
  26. 26. Interpreting ContentWe know the world through our interpretations (representations). Attending to our interpretations in a rigorous way formedia psychological research… 26
  27. 27. Case Study: Plan B “Ill Manors” Oi! I said oi!• Analyse song lyrics What you looking at, you little rich boy!• Read on Trust (IPA) We’re poor round here, run home and lock your• Read as Suspicion (DP) door Don’t come round here no• Make Interpretations more, you could get• Which approach seems robbed for Real (yeah) because my more appropriate? manors ill My manors ill• Research question? For real Yeah you know my manors ill, my manors ill! 27
  28. 28. The sound: Another layer of meaning What does it add beyond the written word?How does listening impact on your interpretation? 28
  29. 29. The Visual: Another layer of meaning What does it add beyond the spoken word? How does seeing impact on your interpretation?Link: http://vimeo.com/38223344 29
  30. 30. The Narrative: Another layer of meaning The flexibility of qualitative analysis enables us to broaden our notions of what can be data in media psychological research 30
  31. 31. Flickr: Community Photography now & then The relationship betweenmedia and the ‘real’ world 31
  32. 32. Qualitative Analysis: Understandingthe complexities of lived experienceLife is more complex with media 32
  33. 33. The pragmatic researcherDo whatever is best to answer the research questionBricolage: concept adopted by qualitative researchers todefine those who are increasingly using an eclectic rangeof methodological approaches together (Denzin &Lincoln, 2000, McLeod, 2001, Kincheloe, 2001)Researcher-as-bricoleur (from French word for craftsman)Blurred boundaries: “We are no longer bound by the rigidscientific rigour and instead we seem to adopt a ‘pick nmix’ approach that is adaptable to the circumstance andneeds of the research question” (Watt, 2010, p. 51). 33 Flickr: gregheo
  34. 34. Reflexivity – examining your role in research “…how does who I am, who I have been, who I think I am, and how I feel affect data collection and analysis” (Pillow, 2003, p. 176) • A central methodological tool for qualitative researchers, contributes to ‘quality’ • Finlay (2002) argues reflexive analysis should ideally start from the beginning of the research process. • Challenged the fundamental and “conventional ideas of science, which favour professional objectivity and distance over engagement and subjectivity” (Finlay & Gough, 2002, p. 1). 34
  35. 35. The trouble with reflexivityDifficulties psychology students can face when asked tobe reflexive: “For psychology students, the expectation of writing reflexively about the qualitative studies that they have conducted constitutes a transgression of the scientized code of detached, depersonalized, supposedly objective narrative style that characterizes the pseudoscientific model of their training. In my experience such expectations usually generate some incredulity, and occasionally resistance from too well absorbed disciplinary codes; however, they are usually experienced as relief, and even as emancipatory.” (Burman, 1997, p. 796) 35
  36. 36. Can never fully know how youinfluence the research… “Reflexive analysis can only ever be a partial, tentative, provisional account” (Finlay, 2002, p. 542). But you should still try! 36 Flickr: astroshots42
  37. 37. ‘Quality’ Criteria for Qualitative Research• Make clear epist. & ontol. positions• Reflexivity – from personal to disciplinary• Transparency - processes• ‘Fruitfulness’ (Wetherell, 1998)• Systematic interpretation• ‘Good’ interpretation takes time and practice.• Qualitative research should not be evaluated by positivist criteria i.e. reliability, validity, generalisation etc…doesn’t aim to be these things! 37
  38. 38. Next session• How to be systematic in qualitative research• Prepare and practice qualitative interviewing• Further reading – Read Mauthner & Doucet (2003) Reflexive Accounts and Accounts of Reflexivity in Qualitative Data (bb) – Read one other research paper that interests you. Identify the epistemological, ontological and methodological positions of the research. Are they identified? Are they assumed? 38
  39. 39. Flickr: Community Photography now & then 39