Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sun Ho's Questions - 11/2

Week 10: November 2 – Politics & Ethics, Interpretation & Validity

1. Before I go onto the readings: It seems like ethical issues are more difficult to solve in qualitative research compared to quantitative methods. What could be the reason? Like Punch concluded, "there is no consensus or unanimity on what is public and private, what constitutes harm, and what the benefits of knowledge are" (p 94). If this applies to both qualitative and quantitative research, why are these readings assuming that it is much more difficult for qualitative research to deal with this?

2. Hopf article includes a paragraph about the problems of participant observation Gans stated: "he observes even when he does not appear to be doing so,...he asks questions with covert purposes of which his respondents are likely to be unaware...In short, the observer is acting dishonestly." And what is a consequence of this? Observers' feelings of guilt. Hopf emphasizes the importnace of informed consent by mentioning this and I felt the same way when I carried out assignments 1 and 2. While I felt like I was "spying on them (p. 336)" as a participant observer, running a focus group was much more comfortable because participants were already informed about what I was doing and why. I wonder how others overcame this problem of "psychological risks" coming from "partial deception."

3. On page 338, Hopf mentions about problems of publication. After looking at the Springdale case, topics covered in our area of research don't seem to cause much problem compared to those in other fields. What are some of the typical problems we may face in future research?

4. While Punch article was very practical, Altheide & Johnson reading is very conceptually oriented. They map out issues about interpretive validity by laying out five dimensions of qualitative research. Although it provides us with a firm framework of principles of the ethnographic work, following these principles, however, seems extremely difficult. How do we do that considering there are inevitable and unavoidable problems at the same time?

5. Denzin argues, "interpretation is an art that cannot be formalized." But then like he said, where do we place importance when interpreting news text; lived experience vs the point of view of the Other?

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