Sunday, November 1, 2009


While reading the articles for this week I couldn’t help feeling that we have been posing questions regarding to them since the beginning of the class. In any case, I think a question posed by Hopf more or less sums up what we have all been trying to ask/argue: “Do utilitarian aspects play a decisive role in defining research ethic regulations or is it possible to argue for single deviations from the rules in a utilitarian way, for example with respect to the gain of knowledge? (p. 335) Also, how can we gauge “partial deception” (p. 336)? How can we come up with a set of guiding rules when what we do is something in which agreement over ethical issues is “rarely possible” (p. 339)?
Altheide and Johnson brought us back to the tired idea that ethnographers are “nonobjective” and that qualitative research is “inextricably bound to the contexts and rationales of the researcher” (p. 288) and then they exposed how the positivist approach is now defunct, leaving an open space that the “hyphenation” phenomenon filled.
The discussion about all the types of validity was a tad confusing: aren’t they all interrelated? How much do they truly matter if we are supposed to “remain loyal or true to the phenomena under study, rather than to any particular set of methodological techniques or principles” (p. 290). I agree that “all knowledge is perspectival” (p. 293)… so where can I find the author’s perspective in a quantitative article?
If we try to follow the “topics” discussed on page 296, wouldn’t we end up with a book instead of an article every time? Also, the discussion about tacit knowledge was quite interesting… but I raised a lot of questions. For example, how much tacit knowledge can there be when academia usually works with very specific theories, subjects, etc.? How can we marry interpretation with tacit knowledge?
In academia, who is that “generalized other” (p. 306) for whom our writing is intended?
Denzin says: “Interpretation is and art; it is not formulaic or mechanical” (p. 317). I agree. If representation is “self-presentation” (p. 319), isn’t the act of interpreting similar to getting naked? I loved this chapter!
The discussion abut writing was probably the best one I’ve read so far. In my humble opinion, the structure of a quantitative paper is stressed so much in academia that the writing per se get thrown to the bottom of the list. What we call a “good writer” in academia is generally someone that has published many papers; what would they be called if 100,000 people read their article? Carver had many of his short stories turned into film because the narrative really told a story… how many articles could we say do the same?
I was surprised that, even though the subject of recreation was touched (p. 328), memory and its faulty nature was not discussed. In our memory (and I’m borrowing from writer J.M. Caballero Bonald) things are always seen as better or worse than what they really were: our memory is always tainted by what we expected, feared, etc. While reading this chapter, the idea that we think of ourselves first as researchers and only then as writers came to me. How can we change this?

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