ACS 301 September 18, 2008 Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
Key themes <ul><li>The nature of quantitative research </li></ul><ul><li>The nature of qualitative research </li></ul><ul><li>The pros and cons </li></ul><ul><li>A tangent into feminism </li></ul>
What do quant researchers worry about? I want to know what causes something else. I really spend a lot of time wondering how to measure things. I wonder how small patterns generalize to big patterns. I want to make sure others can repeat my findings.
What is a concept? “… categories for the organization of ideas and observations” (Bulmer, 1984: 43)
What is a measure? Something that can be counted. Age Height Number of books
What is an indicator? Something that “indicates” the presence of something else. GDP IQ Number of hospital visits
Benefits of measuring Fine differences Consistent device Precise estimates of relationships Reliability Validity
What’s wrong with quantitative research? They always seem to measure artificial things and say they’re really precise. Yeah and they treat people like they’re test tubes or something. It’s the way they do things…it makes it hard for people to see their research as relevant to them. Well their research is just so static. Real life actually changes.
Would you use quant research in this example? Researchers want to study poverty in a small, urban housing unit. The property managers say that turnover in the apartments is high. Researchers wonder if the housing unit has some effect on poverty.
Qualitative vs. Quantitative Interpretivism Natural science model Epistemological orientation Constructionism Objectivism Ontological orientation Inductive, generating theory Deductive, testing of theory Role of theory in research Qualitative Quantitative
What do qual researchers worry about? I want to see the world through the eyes of my respondents. I want to describe the context in a lot of detail. I want to show how social change occurs. I’m interested in how things come to be. I really want my research approach to be flexible and able to change.
Concepts in social theory “Sensitizing” concepts provide a “general sense of reference and guidance” “Definitive” concepts a “prescriptions of what to see” “ Thus, with clear concepts theoretical statements can be brought into close and self-correcting relations with the empirical world” (Blumer, 1954: 5).
What’s wrong with qualitative research? It’s just so subjective. Well good luck trying to re-create those results! You just can’t generalize it. How am I supposed to know how many people have the same experiences? That’s because they often don’t tell you how they did what that did.
What does feminism have to do with qualitative research? We want our voices heard! Yeah but we kind of also want to know the numbers of discrimination.