Sunday, November 8, 2009


The first reading by Potter, Part III, was a thick, uninteresting reading. I had thought that decision making and the way we organize ourselves were more of a natural, almost organic process. For example, the “expectations for data variable” (p. 211) had two choices, b and d, that, at least for me, have sort of come into being all by themselves in different researches. Could we say that all these depend on what we ask? Maybe on how we work?
In any case, I accept that I was naturally biased against the first chapter. I was absolutely ready for chi square, nonsensical-yet-all-important “statistical significance”, a truckload of tables and deviance to NOT pop up in this class, but I guess we need to learn to do a bit of everything when it comes to mixed methods. At least I was happy to see that he threw a few jabs at quantitative writing at the end of the chapter.
It was interesting to read on page 227 the discussion on how “qualitative empirical literature closely resembles what many qualitative theoreticians criticize about the quantitative literature, that is, that the quantitative approach is defective in its assumption that of an ordered reality and a belief that there is an objective process of knowing that reality.” Maybe they (notice I didn’t say “we”) should start looking at subjectivity in different way…
Also, the author was very brave when he accepted that his research did not deal with “non-American” journals. Not dealing with Europeans, for example, makes all the sense in the world. Why would we even look over there when Baudrillard, Eco, Foucault, Lyotard, the recently deceased Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Saussure and van Djik, just to name a few of the ones we’ve been reading about lately, are so DAMN CLEARLY AMERICAN! Anyway, who the hell cares what the rest of the world thinks?
The second part of the reading, in which I thought he would discuss articles or simply show us how to write “qualitatively”; turned out to be more like a guide on how to write a book. At least the author didn’t turn the whole discussion into the usual “qualitative is just something that’s not quantitative”.
Part II was very thorough in its description and explanation of description, interpretation and explanation. Should our “level” of description have more to do with the questions we asked or with our ability to write? I was surprised, and truly enjoyed reading, the discussion on types of literary criticism.
The author was, again, very brave when he presented the idea of that scholars can “advocate social change” (p. 171). I already asked this in class: can we do it from academia? Should that be a guiding factor when we’re doing research? Doesn’t advocacy utterly destroy any pretense of objectivity? How can we separate ethical advocacy from passionate feelings about something in our research?
Richardson asks “How do we create texts that are vital?” (p. 347). The answer is: you don’t. We can only make a text vital to ourselves and hope that our readers feel the same way about it. A novel is juts words put together until people interpret it, recommend it and loan it until it becomes a best-seller. A vital text about something that we enjoy can bore to death someone else… especially in academia.
As or the rest of the chapter, I guess I only have a few more questions: Where does experimental writing get published? Isn’t a “narrative of the self” (p. 355) more like a literary essay? Where can we find an “ethnographical fictional representation” (p. 356)? Why does the author dance back and forth between postmodernism and poststructuralism? If we have all these ways of writing, why does everyone stick to the same old same old? How do the journals mentioned on page 361 look on your resume of you want to teach journalism?

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