Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Here's where we'll have a chance to chat about using qualitative methods in mass media research. More to come...

1 comment:

  1. 1- From the readings, one may conclude that many times qualitative research’s history and definition seem to be shaped or defined with respect to the quantitative approach. In other words, positivist approaches seem to be overly present when describing qualitative or interpretive perspectives. This doesn’t seem to happen in the opposite direction. From what I remember, quantitative research’s history and definition are not generally described with respect to the qualitative approach’s development. Just to give some examples: In Denzin and Lincoln’s article they state, “Postpositivism functioned as a powerful epistemological paradigm in this moment. Researchers attempted to fit the arguments of Campbell and Stanley about internal and external validity to constructionist models of the research act” (p. 16). In the 1950’s, qualitative research came to be seen as a preliminary activity which could, at best, lay the groundwork for “real science’” (Jankwoski and Wester, p. 49). Is this the case? If so, why?

    2- From the readings, one can also conclude that qualitative research aims to provide a deep understanding, interpretation, and description of social phenomena. However, the Chicago school conducted communication research on the effects of films on children (Jankowski and Wester). Is it possible to conduct causal or predictive studies using qualitative tools?

    3- Jankowski and Wester quote Steeves (1987) to say that generally feminist critical scholars use qualitative methods while those from a social science background use quantitative ones. But the argument goes further by saying that radical feminists tend to “dismiss quantitative methods as ‘masculine’ strategies of knowledge” (p. 57). What does this mean? Why quantitative methods would be masculine? Does this mean that numbers are intrinsically masculine? Are women in hard sciences more masculine? I wonder whether this argument reproduces or reinforces the available stereotypes that women are for letters while men are for math or numbers, which eventually boosts stereotype threats (i.e., women finally end up believing they are not good at numbers) and prevents equal opportunities.

    4- In Jankowski and Wester, there is another idea that seems somewhat puzzling: “To sum up, there are affinities between the qualitative tradition and research with an emancipatory objective…. While it is true that some figures associated with the Chicago School were guided by progressive ideals, its research program was not designed to solve social problems” (p. 57). I understand that researchers are not necessarily activists, but what is the purpose of doing research if it’s not to unfold or solve a problem? Is it just to build knowledge for the sake of building knowledge? Where is the “so what” factor then?

    5- Finally, I would like to clarify some questions: Is it correct to conclude that methods dealing with participant observation and in-depth interviews con from the social science approach to qualitative method while text analyses com from the humanistic perspective? Also, I would like to better understand what is the phenomenological approach. I know Gaye Tuchman used this approach in her books but I’m not clear what it is exactly.