Monday, January 31, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance, and Thoughts on Grbich 3-7

Grbich, C. (2007). Qualitative data analysis: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Chs, 3-7

Did anyone catch the introduction to Part Two? Grbich is now the second person I've heard espouse something close to the "spotlight theory" I described earlier, which (to my ears) sounds diametrically opposed to what we're discussing as a group:

"Although these procedures have a strong historical attachment to the design approaches within which they originated, they are flexible entities and can be lifted out, used and adapted to suit the needs of individual researchers in order to illuminate particular aspects of a research question." (p. 37)

Why does it sound in my mind like turfishness is being espoused in class, but then we read people like Grbich saying that "it is most appropriate that you hunt through the tools and procedures available to find the best one for the job at hand and, where none quite fits, to adapt several in order to provide answers to your research question"(p. 37)?

Is turfishness something endemic to certain approaches? And should those warning voices be ignored? I mean, I get that "as most analytical approaches have been strongly linked to particular forms of data collection and may also be underpinned by specific epistemological and conceptual or theoretical underpinnings, you will need to know what it is you are adapting in order to see more clearly what limitations and advantages may eventuate" (p. 37), but that doesn't make it impossible or even undesirable, does it?

This obviously needs to be the focus of some of my energies this semester, since I think that discursive psychology and cultural-historical activity theory can be blended in a way that will beneift my research. Maybe. Hopefully.

Classical Ethnographic Approaches / Newer Ethnographic Approaches

Understandably, these chapters don't even scratch the surface of the myriad approaches ethnography takes/wants to take. It's no wonder that I get the sense that all qualitative research (and some of the quantitative, too) is ethnography to ethnographers. Seriously. Phemonenology gets interpreted as a particular flavor of event analysis, discourse analysis is a fancy term for linguistic ethnography, etc. etc. I took the first half of Allison's year-long ethnography course just to see what all of the fuss was about. I wish I could have stayed for the entire year, if for no other reason than to be able to talk to ethnographers, not at or past them. I got exposed to a couple dozen ethnographic lenses (no kidding). If you think this is an avenue, I would suggest the class. These chapters will seem even more cursory than they are.

Grounded Theory

I really didn't like this section...I thought that the intro book (Creswell) Trena used when I took it did a better job walking through GT, or maybe it was Trena, I forget. I mean, Grbich does a fine job depicting the Glaserian / Straussian schism in GT, and even walks through some alternatives that I have not encountered. But I don't know how you talk about GT and not talk about the constructivist grounded theory of Charmaz or the situational analysis of Clarke, both of which have emerged as THE major alternatives to Glaser and Strauss.


I have to admit that it is hard for me to conceptualize "doing" phenomenology, and not for the standard/obvious reasons. When I was learning the concepts of phenomenology through some of Sartre's "nauseated" characters like Roquentin, I was trained to look at how Roquentin (or his reader) was able to recognize "bracketing" as a socially-imposed construct, and the effects of ignoring or "unbracketing" things. Good times...I just have a hard time telling myself to go in the opposite direction, and why I would want to. But I am intrigued by the idea that the term lifeworld (Grbich defines as mundane daily occurrences...I prefer Husserl's world of immediate experience) springs from phenomenology, because I am noticing the term pop up at conferences now, and attached to projects that I would not think were phenomenological on their face. Might be worth a look-see....

Feminist Research

So far, this chapter seems WAY out of place. It's like we have had this wide-angle shot of all of these general theories, then we get a jarring zoom shot of a flavor of critical theory. It would have made more sense, IMHO, to have a section on critical theory, then to do a fly-over of critical race theory, critical gender theory (which would include critical feminist theory), etc. If the intention was to highlight one as an ensign for all, then just say so. I suspect that Grbich just knows a lot about critical feminist theory and felt compelled to include it, perhaps not realizing that omitting everything else would look eye-soreish to some. And don't tell me that feminist research doesn't have to be critical, that she may not even be going there. I may even agree that feminist research doesn't have to be critical, but that is NOT how Grbich is framing it (p. 96):

... there is inequality in our society which has been constructed along gender lines and this has left women as a group unequal with and subordinated to men in terms of socio-economic status and decision making power. Structural and cultural expectations and practices continue to reinforce these inequalities...current modes of knowledge disadvantage women by devaluing their ways of knowing and their forms of knowledge construction....highlighting the experiences of women through research and allowing their voices to be heard may go some way to making these inequalities more widely recognised and may also encourage political action to redress oppressive practices.

Which analysis approach to try?

I suppose that "ask me next week, when we get to discourse/conversation analysis" isn't an option...So...I guess it depends on whether we are trying to practice on something we know, or trying out something we don't, just to see....I like the appeal of the latter. It would be nice to "hook up" with others to try some of these out. I've been doing GT and ethnography, so I'm not terribly concerned/interested with those. I'd like to play around with phenomenology, but I'd like to work with KF, who has been doing it and could ge me a sense of the "rhythm" of doing phenomenology. I wouldn't know what to do if you just told me to go "do phenomenology" with the sample interview data...