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Forum Question Critical Analysis of Qualitative Methods

Forum Question Critical Analysis of Qualitative Methods 1193
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Forum Question: Please paraphrase and not simply provide the Abstract from the article. Write a critical review of their qualitative analysis using prompts from our first Assignment (See Assignment in Week 3, Section 10, questions 75-80 listed under "Qualitative Analysis - questions attached below as well) (These questions are listed below along with the other questions) Week 3 Assignment 1, or any articles you have reviewed and submitted for a grade (no double dipping!). Qualitative Analysis (Make sure your article uses qualitative method in their analysis. Common for observation, field research, interviews, focus groups - see more about this in Babbie, 2011, pp. 24-25) Quantitative and Qualitative Data (Babbie, 2011, pp. 24-25) The distinction between quantitative and qualitative data in social research is essentially the distinction between numerical and nonnumerical data. When we say someone is intelligent, we’ve made a qualitative assertion. When psychologists and others measure intelligence by IQ scores, they are attempting to quantify such a qualitative assessment. For example, the psychologist might say that a person has an IQ of 120. Every observation is qualitative at the outset, whether it be your experience of someone’s intelligence, the location of a pointer on a measuring scale, or a check mark entered in a questionnaire. None of these things is inherently numerical or quantitative, but converting them to a numerical form is useful at times. (Chapter 14 deals specifically with the quantification of data.) Quantification often makes our observations more explicit. It can also make aggregating and summarizing data easier. Further, it opens up the possibility of statistical analyses, ranging from simple averages to complex formulas and mathematical models. Thus, a social researcher might ask whether you tend to date people older or younger than yourself. A quantitative answer to this seems easily attained. The researcher asks how old each of your dates has been and calculates an average. Case closed. Or is it? Although “age” here represents the number of years people have been alive, sometimes people use the term differently; perhaps for some people “age” really means “maturity.” Though your dates may tend to be a little older than you, they may act more immaturely and thus represent the same “age.” Or someone might see “age” as how young or old your dates look or maybe the degree of variation in their life experiences, their worldliness. These latter meanings would be lost in the quantitative calculation of average age. Qualitative data are richer in meaning and detail than are quantified data. This is implicit in the cliché, “He is older than his years.” The poetic meaning of this expression would be lost in attempts to specify how much older. This richness of meaning stems in part from ambiguity. If the expression means something to you when you read it, that particular meaning arises from your own experiences, from people you’ve known who might fit the description of being “older than their years” or perhaps the times you’ve heard others use that expression. Two things are certain: (1) You and I probably don’t mean exactly the same thing, and (2) you don’t know exactly what I mean, and vice versa. It might be possible to quantify this concept, however. For example, we might establish a list of life experiences that would contribute to what we mean by worldliness: Getting married Getting divorced Having a parent die Seeing a murder committed Being arrested Being exiled Being fired from a job Running away with the circus We might quantify people’s worldliness as the number of such experiences they’ve had: the more such experiences, the more worldly we’d say they were. If we thought of some experiences as more powerful than others, we could give those experiences more points. Once we had made our list and point system, scoring people and comparing their worldliness would be pretty straightforward. We would have no difficulty agreeing on who had more points than whom. To quantify a concept like worldliness, we need to be explicit about what we mean. By focusing specifically on what we’ll include in our measurement of the concept, however, we also exclude any other meanings. Inevitably, then, we face a trade-off: Any explicated, quantitative measure will be more superficial than the corresponding qualitative description. What a dilemma! Which approach should we choose? Which is more appropriate to social research? The good news is that we don’t need to choose. In fact, we shouldn’t. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are useful and legitimate in social research. Some research situations and topics are amenable mostly to qualitative examination, others mostly to quantification. We need both. However, because these two approaches call for different skills and procedures, you may feel more comfortable with and become more adept in one mode than the other. You’ll be a stronger researcher, however, to the extent that you can learn both approaches. At the very least, you should recognize the legitimacy of both. Finally, you may have noticed that the qualitative approach seems more aligned with idiographic explanations, whereas nomothetic explanations are more easily achieved through quantification. Though this is true, these relationships are not absolute. Moreover, both approaches present considerable “gray area.” Recognizing the distinction between qualitative and quantitative research doesn’t mean that you must identify your research activities with one to the exclusion of the other. A complete understanding of a topic often requires both techniques. The contributions of these two approaches are widely recognized today. For example, when Stuart Biddle and his colleagues (2001) at the University of Wales set out to review the status of research in the field of sport and exercise psychology, they were careful to examine the uses of both quantitative and qualitative techniques, drawing attention to those they felt were underused. The apparent conflict between these two fundamental approaches has been neatly summarized by Paul Thompson (2004:238–39): Only a few sociologists would openly deny the logic of combining the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methods in social research …. In practice, however, despite such wider methodological aspirations in principle, social researchers have regrettably become increasingly divided into two camps, many of whose members know little of each other even if they are not explicitly h

Forum Question: Please paraphrase and not simply provide the Abstract from the article. Write a critical review of their qualitative analysis using prompts from our first Assignment (See Assignment in Week 3, Section 10, questions 75-80 listed under
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