Sunday, November 1, 2009

Teresa's questions

Gans’ description of the psychological costs for researchers who conduct participant observation in regard to being dishonest to human subjects made me wonder about the costs that others types of qualitative methods have. For instance, in a focus group, participants know the general topic of interest to the researchers. However, they still don’t know our guiding research questions. Is this deceiving? Does it have a psychological cost? So what are the risks involved for researchers using other techniques beyond participant observation?

Punch advances the position for a more pragmatic approach to qualitative research, for the “get out and do it” perspective. This runs in contrast to Lofland’s position that fieldwork in qualitative research should be done after adequate training, supervision and careful consideration. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

From the readings I conclude that it seems there is no point in comparing the concept of validity that derives from the positivist approach with the one that derives from qualitative perspectives. The meaning and purpose of these two words is different. While for quantitative and positivist researchers, validity is equated to truthfulness (i.e., making sure we’re measuring what we intent to measure) for qualitative researchers is equated to usefulness (i.e., is it relevant or valid what we’re studying).

The readings consistently repeat that the process by which the ethnography occur must be clearly stated and delineated so the reader can assess it and judge it. Does this disclosure of ourselves (i.e., who we are, our background, etc) apply to other qualitative approaches such as focus groups or textual analysis? Why?

Denzin classified writing styles into three categories: Mainstream realism (i.e., thick descriptions that assume the author can a give an objective accounting of the object being studied), interpretive realism (i.e., the authors insert their own interpretations), and descriptive realism (i.e., rthe author stays out and let the world being described to speak for itself). What is really the difference between the first and the third category?

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