Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sebastian's questions

Q1. In quantitative writing, I have realized that it is preferable to name a concept and stick with all throughout the article, even if it becomes repetitive and cacophonic in literary terms. The purpose is to be accurate. For instance, if we are talking about news, it’s news, not media or information. Undoubtedly, this makes the text more boring. How do we deal with this problem in qualitative writing? One the one hand, we want to engage the reader and write well, as Richardson emphasizes, but on the other hand we don’t want to be less accurate along the way.

Q2. Similarly, metaphors are key in social science writing. But if we overuse them, do we risk lack of accuracy? That is, do we risk being clear in what we are trying to say or describe?

Q3. Description, according to Potter, refers to writing occurrences without making any inference. I can’t help but think that describing for the sake of describing is the realm of journalism or, at least, a first, initial approach to address a larger issue. I was impressed to learn that there are whole books dedicated to describe (Potter cites Hobson’s work on British soap-opera viewers). Now, why would anyone in communication research be interested in describing without analyzing, interpreting, criticizing or advocating for a specific position when conducting research?

Q4. I appreciated Potter’s treatment of the idea of contextualization, especially the two points of Anderson: that contextualization is a basis for theories of the midrange, and that only through full contextualization we can make sense of what is being examined. It seems to me that some qualitative methods lend themselves better for contextualization than others. For instance, ethnography versus focus group. However, when contextualizing, we must bear in mind to whom are we contextualizing the situation, right? If I’m publishing in Chile, the level of contextualization is lower if my research is on Chile that if I’m publishing in the U.S. How does the purposive audience of our research affect what we include in our contextualization?

Q5. I also found ironic Potter’s finding that “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.” Why is this?

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