Field research


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Field research

  1. 1. Field Research Neuman and Robson Ch. 12 and 13
  2. 2. Introduction to qualitative methodology  Data in words rather than numbers  Non-positivistic orientation  Includes:  Field research  Qualitative interviewing  Historical comparative analysis
  3. 3. Three General Approaches to Research APPROACH POSITIVISM CRITICAL INTERPRETIVE USUAL TYPE experiment, historical- field research, OF RESEARCH survey, comparative interview cont. anal. PERSPECTIVE technocratic transcendent transcendent TYPE OF LOGIC reconstructed logic-in-practice logic-in-practice PATH linear non-linear non-linear /cyclical /cyclical
  4. 4. Characteristics of Qualitative Research  Context is critical  In depth, detailed  Researcher immerses self in data (non- objective)  Researcher integrity  Bias recognized  Use of grounded theory  Can detect process and sequence  Data are interpreted rather than analyzed
  5. 5. Elite Studies  Special type of field research  Elites difficult to study, especially with quantitative methods  Preferred method is field study  But special problems  Gatekeepers  Need for connections/contacts  Danger of manipulation  Difficulty of establishing trust
  6. 6. Field research  Main types of Field Research are:  Ethnography  Ethnomethodology  Phenomenological Study  Purposes of field research:  Data collection  Theory construction
  7. 7. Ethnography  A way of building an understanding the culture and behaviours of a group as a whole.  Done in a setting or field site where a group of people share a common culture.  In sociology, ethnography usually called a field study  Uses:  Participant Observation  Interviews with Informants  Examination of documents and cultural artifacts
  8. 8. Ethnography Video  Getting People to Talk: An Ethnography & Interviewing Primer (Copyright © 2008 Gabriel Biller & Kristy Scovel)
  9. 9. Ethnomethodology  The study of commonsense knowledge  How do individuals make sense of social situations and act on their knowledge?  What are the tacit rules used by members of a culture?  Detailed studies of interactions  Breeching experiments (Garfinkel)  To uncover hidden norms
  10. 10. Phenomenological Study  Understanding an experience from a research participant's point of view  Interview several participants as to their perceptions of an experience  Try to build a picture of the experience through using a combination of theories, literature in the area, illustrated by anecdotes, to build a detailed portrait of the experience  Use of Max Weber’s “verstehen”
  11. 11. Topics For Field Research  Topics that defy simple quantification.  Topics where attitudes and behaviours are best understood within their natural setting.  Social processes that take place over time.  The study of meanings, practices, episodes, encounters, roles, relationships, groups, organizations, and settlements.
  12. 12. Sampling in field research  Types of nonprobability sampling methods commonly used:  Quota sampling  Snowball sampling  Deviant cases  Purposive sampling or judgmental sampling
  13. 13. Main Methods Used in Field Research:  Field research includes:  Case study approach  Participant observation and non- participant observation  Intensive interviewing
  14. 14. The Case Study Approach  To try to develop an understanding of a social process by studying one case or a small number of cases in depth  Can be done using a combination of intensive interviewing and observation  Snapshot case studies  Longitudinal case studies  Pre-post case studies  Patchwork case studies  Comparative case studies.
  15. 15. Observation in Field Research  Preparing for the field:  1. Background preparation and literature review  2. Talking to informants  3. Gaining entry into the group  Gatekeepers  Public vs. private settings
  16. 16. The Various Roles of the Observer (Raymond Gold’s levels)  A. Complete participant  B. Participant-as-observer  C. Observer-as-participant  D. Complete observer
  17. 17. Recording observations  Field journal  To record empirical data  To record interpretations  Guidelines for note taking  Don't trust your memory  Take notes in stages  Record everything
  18. 18. Organizing and Writing Notes  Rewrite your notes as soon as possible after making observations  type or enter into a word-processing program  Creating files helps organize field notes for analysis.  a. Chronological file as a master file.  b. Background files (from literature review, and documentation of topic's history.)  c. Biographical files on key subjects in the study.  d. Bibliographical files of all references related to study.  e. Analytical files to categorize what you are observing.  f. Cross-reference files may be useful to retrieve data.
  19. 19. Using computers in field research  some software programs are now available for field research notes and analysis of data  Can save time, especially when analyzing data  See free demos of NVivo and XSight at: trial-software.aspx
  20. 20. Data analysis in field work  Data analysis in field work is an ongoing process  Constant interaction between data collection and data analysis.  Look for:  Similarities, norms, and universals  Dissimilarities, differences, and deviations from norms  Selective perception can be a problem as you learn more about the topic
  21. 21. Asking Questions: The Field Research Interview  Types of qualitative interviews:  Structured  Semistructured  Depth  Field research most often uses unstructured interviews  The use of probes is important in field research
  22. 22. Conducting interviews  Try to be interactive and sensitive to the language and concepts used by the interviewee  Try to keep the agenda flexible  Aim to go below the surface of the topic being discussed  Explore what people say in detail  Check you have understood respondents' meanings  Try to discover the interviewee's own framework of meanings  Avoid imposing own structures and assumptions  Need to consider how perceived by interviewees and the effects of characteristics such as class, race, sex, and social distance on the interview
  23. 23. Types of questions for qualitative interviews  Behaviour or experience  Opinion or belief  Feelings  Knowledge  Sensory  Background or demographic
  24. 24. Recording interviews  Notes written at the time  Notes written afterwards  Audio or videotaping
  25. 25. Researcher as research instrument  Qualitative interviews require considerable skill on the part of the interviewer.  The interviewer needs to notice how directive he or she is being  Whether leading questions are being asked whether cues are picked up or ignored  Whether interviewees are given enough time to explain what they mean
  26. 26. Maintaining control of the interview  Know what it is you want to find out  Ask the right questions to get the information you need  Give appropriate verbal and non-verbal feedback  Good feedback vs. bad feedback  Avoiding bias
  27. 27. Bracketing Your Biases  First, make a list of your characteristics:  1. your gender;  2. your age;  3. your ethnic or national identification;  4. your religion or philosophy of life;  5. your political party or orientation;  6. your favourite psychological theory.  Add four more characteristics: words or phrases that are descriptive of you as an individual.
  28. 28. Bracketing (cont.)  1. List ways in which your characteristics might bias you in your efforts at research interviewing.  2. Then write how you might counteract these biases.  3. And then write how these efforts to counteract your biases might themselves lead to other biases!
  29. 29. Advantages of field research  Can study nonverbal behaviour  Flexibility  Natural environment  Longitudinal analysis  Relatively inexpensive
  30. 30. Disadvantages of field research  Not applicable to the investigation of large social settings  Making generalizations can be problematic  Biases, attitudes, and assumptions of the researcher can be problem  Selective perception and memory  Selectivity in data collection  Presence of the researcher may change the system or group being studied  Virtually impossible to replicate the findings
  31. 31. Validity and Reliability  Validity very high  Can document complexity of human behaviour  Detailed descriptions  Reliability low  Subjective  Difficult to replicate  Low external validity (generalizability)