Monday, February 14, 2011

Putting the Finish on Grbich

Grbich, C. (2007). Qualitative data analysis: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Chs, 14-17.

Grbich, C. (1998) Computing packages for qualitative data measurement: what is their real impact? Australian Journal of Primary Health - Interchange 4 (3): 98-104.

I'm definitely a "theory generation" type of person...theory directing seems a bit too "old-school" for me. Grbich's explanation resonated with me:"where you draw a range of 'theories' from the literature and from available theoretical ideas of relevance. Some of these will fall by the wayside as their explanatory power cannot be sustained in view of your research findings, while you may combine others with what is emerging from the data to form the basis for new theoretical explanations and models of practice." (186)

I was less impressed with the folksonomy she uses to discuss theory and its levels, but the small blurbs on different approaches to theory generation was nice.

I really don't know what to say about "Incorporating Data from Multiple Sources". It just rings false to me. If you have more or less subscribed to the notion that quantitative research in educational psychology places an emphasis on absolutely decontextualized cognitive states and appraisals at the expense of the interactive context in which cognition occurs, and then has the unmitigated gall to pass itself off as somehow more objective, scientific (see: superior), any talk of mixed methods sounds like a request to adulterate your otherwise pristine foray into ambiguity. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

I enjoyed the list and description of available display options Grbich put into Chapter 16. I can see referring to that while dissertating to see what would be the best fit for something I wanted to display.

Chapter 17...what to say about Chapter 17? At first, I was thinking that it simply was a bit too "SouthPacific-centric" for my sensibilities...and I still think that way about the layout of the software, most of which I either don't recognize or recognize as being out of date...which a simple nod to a group like the CAQDAS project and mention of some of the programs with staying power would have corrected. But then I noticed in the "concerns" section that (as some of my neighbors might say) Grbich has a dog in this hunt! (see 231) Was this whole thing just a straw-man argument?

Under the general concept of "tools constructed for a particular program must inevitably impact upon the data" (230), Grbich then opens up a five-page salvo (which, to my remembering, she has done nowhere else in this book) on CAQDAS programs, with volleys on the "framing" of knowledge (as if all knowledge wasn't framed), the "texturing" of reality (as if all reality wasn't textured) and its impact on knowledge, the "unnatural" structuring of collaborative communication in CAQDAS programs (as if there was a "natural" communicative structure) and, OMGG, REIFICATION (which she likely says with the same tone of voice as SINGULARITY). She then gives voice (minimally disturbed, I'm sure) to several researchers for a pastiched gripe session she frames as "users' comments".

If you look up her article, she at least admits that all data sets are disturbed by collection and framing, but that computer framing takes it up a notch by adding an additional frame embedded in the metaphors and ideology of the program. The SCT folk would call this "cultures of use", which they argue have existed in all technology from time immemorial, but of course, since we're talking about computers, and since Grbich might have a blind spot to SCT herself, all of the sudden CAQDAS framing is diametrically opposed to the center of a qualitative community of inquiry which values context, thick description and conveyance of participant voice..."minimally disturbed".

At this point I was having only a Tums moment. But then Grbich had to go and get shrill: "The way knowledge is constructed in our society is important, as is the hege­mony of logic which determines which statements become knowledge. As human beings we have the capacity to create an inner representation of life which is multidimensional, complex and characterised by spontaneous reflexive actions. Processes involving segmenting and ordering data "ave the capacity to distance us as researchers, to limit perspectives, and to favour outcomes of homogenisation and standardisation. The tyranny of a system, however useful, which has the capacity to direct and simplify the construction of the views of researchers and ultimately those of readers, will thus always be problematic."

Excuse me, I need to go grab some