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'We must put ourselves in the position of the subject who tries to find his way in this world, and we must remember, first of all, that the environment by which he is influenced and to which he adapts himself is his world, not the objective world of science.'

W.I. Thomas
and
F. Znaniecki

Qualitative Sociology Review
2008
Volume IV Issue 3


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Krzysztof Konecki
     Lodz University, Poland

Triangulation and Dealing with the Realness of Qualitative Research

This paper provides a sociologists' reflection of a sociologist on qualitative field research. Reflections will include some methodological and epistemological considerations that are connected with field work, while building the realness of the description and conclusions, i.e. constructing the quality of qualitative research. The intellectual process of doing research will be characterized by analysis of: description of investigated reality (tales of the field); analytical process; usage of commonsense research procedures (so called triangulation procedures), which are used in the field by the researcher and during analysis or writing a research report to adequately "re - present" researched reality.
The three above mentioned stages of representation of reality are interwoven to create one complex intellectual process, which is called "field research". The quality of qualitative research is the intellectual process where some procedures are used to create the accountability of research conclusions.

Keywords:
Triangulation; Field research; Qualitative methods; Sociology; Ethnography; Writing of ethnography; Ethnographic description; Definition of reality; Realness; Tribal rules; Generalized other
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Marie Buscatto
     l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, France

Who Allowed You to Observe? A Reflexive Overt Organizational Ethnography

Observing people working within organizational contexts through time creates epistemological issues, more so when doing it overtly, with top management's official agreement. Power relations as well as hierarchical structures strongly influence the way people view the observer and interact with her in organizations. Those interactions also partly depend on his personal background - sex, age, professional position and so on. Following a reflexive approach, my objective is here to better grasp how top management's agreement to the ethnographer's entry on the field may influence both the way workers from differing hierarchical levels behave with her (and thus affect her observing conditions) and how he may analyse his ethnographic notes to develop scientific sociological results.

Keywords:
Ethnography; Reflexivity; Organization; Work; Epistemology
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Lars-Christer Hydén
     Linköping University, Sweden

Narratives in Illness: A Methodological Note

As a result of the general growth in the interest in narratives different conception of what a story is and how to analyze has emerged. One especially interesting and methodological relevant difference is between the conception of narratives as textual objects and narratives as part of a storytelling event. The paper discusses the theoretical differences between these two analytical approaches to narratives. An example from my own research on Alzheimer's patients telling stories illustrate the possibilities of using a performative and micro ethnographic approach to the study of storytelling in order to understand the functions of narratives - especially in relation to identity work. If stories not only are thought of as representations of events it becomes possible to view stories and story telling as social action: social states are both established, negotiated and changed through stories. This is especially important in the field of health and illness where diseases almost always are embedded in conversations and the telling of why and how symptoms were discovered or traumas received. For many patients and persons with especially communicative disabilities story telling is a challenge, but also an opportunity to actually master, maintain and often transform their identities.

Keywords:
Narrative; Methodology; Identity; Performance; Ethnography; Video analysis
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Bernt Schnettler
    Technical University Berlin, Germany

Vision and Performance. The Sociolinguistic Analysis of Genres and Its Application to Focussed Ethnographic Data

The use of audiovisual recording devices is changing the practice of qualitative research. Extensive corpus of data can be generated in (short-term) focussed fieldwork. Nevertheless, methods to analyse video data are still in an experimental stage. This article explores the benefits and limitations of applying sociolinguistic genre analysis to audio-visual data. This is illustrated with a case study, based on the videotaped "deep-trance vision" of a New Religious Movement's spiritual leader, which is one the most famous contemporary religious visionaries in Germany. The analysis aims to reconstruct the construction of this religious experience of transcendence from the perspective of its followers. We will examine three different levels of communication (a) the inner context, exploring the textual, gestural, mimical and prosodic aspects, (b) the intermediate level where the focus lies on the setting and decorum, and finally (c) the outer context, focussing on the social embedding of this form of "transcendent" communication and its filmic presentation. The article closes with a reflection on the need to combine hermeneutic analysis of case studies based on textual analysis with ethnographic field data and observation to contextualise its interpretation.

Keywords:
Video-data; Genre-analysis; Ethnography; Religious experiences; New religious movements
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Anne Ryen
     Agder University, Norway

Wading the Field with My Key Informant: Exploring Field Relations

Entering and staying on in the field or rather avoiding being kicked out are the two classic ethnographic challenges. The rather positivist nature of textbook guidance on dos and don'ts in fieldwork in general and in delicate issues in particular (for researchers` dilemmas in the field see Ryen, 2002), tend to recommend a gentle, middle-class (rather female) interactional style. This gaze suffers from being both researcher-focused (cf.Fine, 1994 on "Othering") and based on problematic pre-fixed identities nailing us to the role pair as researcher and key informant. As the introductory extract illustrates, it takes patience also to have an ethnographer "hanging around".
This article deals with the credibility of qualitative research when accounting for or exploring how we do staying in the cross-cultural field and it asks how can we credibly explore the stamina that takes us further?
If we accept fieldwork as social interaction, we need to bring the social (or the "inter") of it into the exploration of our puzzle. Membership categorisation device (MCD) offers to take us closer to understanding and piecing together our puzzle, but to better get at the events taking place in field interaction there is a need also to introduce the wider cultural context and the images available (or not) to members. In this way I recognise the ethnomethodological differentiation between topic and resource, but argue that when understandings and images are not necessarily culturally shared and collective, we also need to make problematic how members deal with the unavailability of shared images.
In the conclusion I argue that the artful side of the local interpretive work in the field is closely entangled with whatever meanings or images are available for construction (in line with Gubrium and Holstein, 1997:121). In cross-cultural contexts more than in others, this is particularly delicate because in such contexts images and experiences often do not connect and may lead to complications or even breakdown in communication (Ryen 2002). Mending or repair thus becomes another crucial phenomenon, itself complex, in the evolving field relations. The analysis thus pinpoints the artistry of members` local collaborative efforts accentuated when constrained by images or descriptions that do not connect across cultures. This makes stamina a joint effort, though itself an intricate, emergent phenomenon.
Next I will briefly introduce a couple of classic works on working with key informants followed by a brief presentation of the analytic approaches to be applied to my data from East-Africa. Before concluding, I will comment on "wading the field" as reflected in the close exploration of the cross-cultural extracts.

Keywords:
Key informant; Qualitative research; Membership categorisation device, credibility; Cross-cultural research; East-Africa
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