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Sensory Ethnography, Place, Ecology of Home, Methodology, Qualitative Research, Energy Consumption, Invisibility, Video

Qualitative Data Analysis: Technologies and Representations

Amanda Coffey, Beverley Lucy Holbrook and Paul Atkinson
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 4

Keywords: Computer Software; Ethnography; Hypertext; Postmodernism; Qualitative Research; Representation; Rhetoric
Abstract: In this paper we address a number of contemporary themes concerning the analysis of qualitative data and the ethnographic representation of social realities. A contrast is drawn. On the one hand, a diversity of representational modes and devices is currently celebrated, in response to various critiques of conventional ethnographic representation. On the other hand, the widespread influence of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis is promoting convergence on a uniform mode of data analysis and representation (often justified with reference to grounded theory). We note the ironic contrast between these two tendencies, the heterodox and the orthodox, in contemporary qualitative research. We go on to suggest that there exist alternatives that reflect both the diversity of representational approaches, and the broader possibilities of contemporary computing. We identify the technical and intellectual possibilities of hypertext software as offering just one such synthesis.

Bias in Social Research

Martyn Hammersley and Roger Gomm
Sociological Research Online 2 (1) 2

Keywords: Bias; Error; Social Research Methodology; Validity
Abstract: Accusations of bias are not uncommon in the social sciences. However, the term 'bias' is by no means straightforward in meaning. One problem is that it is ambiguous. Sometimes, it is used to refer to the adoption of a particular perspective from which some things become salient and others merge into the background. More commonly, 'bias' refers to systematic error: deviation from a true score, the latter referring to the valid measurement of some phenomenon or to accurate estimation of a population parameter. The term may also be used in a more specific sense, to denote one particular source of systematic error: that deriving from a conscious or unconscious tendency on the part of a researcher to produce data, and/or to interpret them, in a way that inclines towards erroneous conclusions which are in line with his or her commitments. In either form, the use of 'bias' to refer to systematic error is problematic. It depends on other concepts, such as 'truth' and 'objectivity', whose justification and role have been questioned. In particular, it seems to rely on foundationalist epistemological assumptions that have been discredited. And the various radical epistemological positions that some social scientists have adopted as an alternative either deny the validity of this concept of bias, explicitly or implicitly, or transform it entirely. We will argue, however, that while it is true that abandonment of a foundationalist conception of science has important implications for the meaning of 'bias' and its associated concepts, they are defensible; indeed, they form an essential framework for research as a social practice. In this context, we shall examine error as a matter of collegial accountability, and define 'bias' as one of several potential forms of error. We conclude by pointing to what we see as the growing threat of bias in the present state of social research.

Focus Group Data and Qualitative Analysis Programs: Coding the Moving Picture as Well as the Snapshots

Catterall and Maclaren
Sociological Research Online 2 (1) 6

Keywords: Code and Retrieve; Computer Software; Focus Groups; Group Interaction; Qualitative Research
Abstract: Most qualitative data analysis programs include a code and retrieve function. We argue that on-screen coding and the retrieval of coded segments, or snapshots, can result in researchers missing important process elements in focus group data, the moving picture. We review the literature on the analysis of focus group data and conclude that the focus group is not simply a data gathering technique where data collected are analyzed for their specific content such as all text relating to a particular theme. Important and potentially insightful communication and learning processes occur in focus groups as a result of participant interaction. These processes in the data can only be identified by several readings of the whole transcript and tracing an individual's text in the context of other participants' text; this is difficult to effect on-screen. Thus, we recommend that transcripts are coded on-screen for content and off-screen for process.

Theory Building in Qualitative Research and Computer Programs for the Management of Textual Data

Sociological Research Online 2 (2) 1

Keywords: Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis; Grounded Theory; Methodology; Qualitative Methods; Theory Building
Abstract: This article refers to recent debates about the potential methodological costs and benefits of computer use in qualitative research and about the relationship between methodological approaches (eg. 'Grounded Theory') on the one hand and computer-aided methods of qualitative research on the other. It is argued that the connection between certain computer-aided strategies and methodological approaches is far more loose than is often assumed. Furthermore, the danger of methodological biases and distortion arising from the use of certain software packages is overemphasized in current discussions, as far as basic tasks of textual data management ('coding and retrieval') usually performed by this software are concerned. However, with the development of more advanced and complex coding and retrieval techniques, which are regarded by some authors as tools for 'theory building' in qualitative research, methodological confusion may arise if basic prerequisites of qualitative theory building are not taken into consideration. Therefore, certain aspects of qualitative theory building which are relevant for computer aided methods of textual data management are discussed in the paper.

Some Methodological and Epistemological Implications of Doing Feminist Research on Non-Feminist Women

Dianne Millen
Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 3

Keywords: Epistemology; Feminist Methodology; Feminist Research; Politics of Research; Postmodernist Epistemologies; Standpoint Theory
Abstract: Feminism is a powerful conceptual tool for critiquing traditional sociological research, but notions of conducting 'feminist research' may contain some unchallenged assumptions about who should be researched and which methodologies are used. Two key concepts within feminist research - empowerment of women and the equality of the research relationship - are interrogated in the light of research conducted on a population of women unsympathetic to feminism and constructions of gender. This research suggests that whilst there is a need to conduct gender-sensitive work, too orthodox a definition of feminist research may inhibit rather than facilitate research which could lead to helpful insights for women. A better strategy might be to site the conflict in epistemology, rather than methodology, and to define feminist research in terms of values which it might uphold rather than techniques it might use. Doing feminist research on unsympathetic populations can lead to conflicts between the researcher and participant's construction of the meaning of gendered experience. Researchers can justify their accounts with reference to feminist 'successor sciences' which have been postulated as an alternative to traditional positivistic rationalism. In the context of this study both feminist standpoint theory and feminist postmodernism are considered as useful justifications for the decisions taken in the research.

Some Methodological and Epistemological Issues Raised by Doing Feminist Research on Non-Feminist Women

Dianne Millen
Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 3

Keywords: Epistemology; Feminist Methodology; Feminist Research; Politics of Research; Postmodernist Epistemologies; Standpoint Theory
Abstract: Feminism is a powerful conceptual tool for critiquing traditional sociological research, but notions of conducting 'feminist research' may contain some unchallenged assumptions about who should be researched and which methodologies are used. Two key concepts within feminist research - empowerment of women and the equality of the research relationship - are interrogated in the light of research conducted on a population of women unsympathetic to feminism and constructions of gender. This research suggests that whilst there is a need to conduct gender-sensitive work, too orthodox a definition of feminist research may inhibit rather than facilitate research which could lead to helpful insights for women. A better strategy might be to site the conflict in epistemology, rather than methodology, and to define feminist research in terms of values which it might uphold rather than techniques it might use. Doing feminist research on unsympathetic populations can lead to conflicts between the researcher and participant's construction of the meaning of gendered experience. Researchers can justify their accounts with reference to feminist 'successor sciences' which have been postulated as an alternative to traditional positivistic rationalism. In the context of this study both feminist standpoint theory and feminist postmodernism are considered as useful justifications for the decisions taken in the research.

Teams as Author: Narrative and Knowledge Creation in Case Discussions in Multi-Disciplinary Health Teams

Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 5

Keywords: Effectiveness; Multi-Disciplinary; Narrative; Post-Modern; Qualitative Methodology; Team Work
Abstract: Narrative has been described as a universally used means for ordering experience. Although the narratives of medical teams have received recent attention, those produced by health professionals in multi- disciplinary health care teams in the course of their everyday work in team reviews and case discussions about service users have not. This paper, then, presents a discussion of an under-investigated area of narrative in the social sciences. The analysis is developed from the narratives produced during team reviews conducted over several weeks about 2 users - one a quadriplegic, the other, a psychiatric patient in a medium secure unit. The major issues with which the paper is concerned are: (i) the identification and explanation of significant differences between the narratives produced by medical and multi-disciplinary teams; (ii) the identification of a suppressed dimension (both in the literature on health care teams, and in the practice of these teams) on the management of difference in the development of complex multi-disciplinary team narratives; and (iii) how members of MD teams work with the different professional knowledges represented by their members. The final section of the paper defines team work as primarily a process of knowledge work and knowledge creation, and it discusses some of the organizational conditions which facilitate such work.

NUD*IST in Action: Its Use and Its Usefulness in a Study of Chronic Illness in Young People

Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 6

Keywords: CAQDAS; Chronic Illness; Computer Software; NUDIST; Qualitative Research; Young People
Abstract: Much has been written in recent years about using computers packages to assist qualitative data analysis. The focus has been on the implications of this development for the analytical process. This paper describes the use of NUD*IST in a recently completed study of the experiences of chronically ill young people, and assesses the epistemological effects of its usage. As well as providing basic practical information on some of NUD*IST's functions, whilst highlighting one particular way of utilising the package, the paper addresses some of the methodological issues raised in the CAQDAS debate by drawing on this 'real-life' experience.

Gender Matters? Three Cohorts of Women Talking About Role Reversal

Jane Pilcher
Sociological Research Online 3 (1) 10

Keywords: Cohort, Gender Issues, Role Reversal, Qualitative Research, Vocabularies
Abstract: Cohort is an important predictor of gender-role attitudes, as a number of surveys have shown. In this article, I undertake a comparison between cohorts of women on the issue of role reversal, with a primary focus on the qualitative differences in what was said and by whom, rather than in how many said what. It is my argument that a qualitative analysis is revealing of the way in which cohort acts to influence the very language used to report 'agreement' or 'disagreement' on matters of gender. Via an analysis of responses to an interview question on role reversal, it is shown that historical location via cohort operates to make permissible and/or available, some ways of talking rather than others. Consequently, on the issue of role reversal, gender featured as a more relevant category in the talk of the oldest cohort than in the talk of the younger cohorts.

Recording Social Life: Reflexivity and Video Methodology

Helen Lomax
Sociological Research Online 3 (2) 1

Keywords: Conversation Analysis; Ethnomethodology; Reflexivity; Validity; Video Methods; Visual Analysis
Abstract: The degree to which researcher generated visual records (for example video texts) may be used to collect valid information about the social world is subject to considerable academic debate (cf. Feld and Williams, 1975; Gottdiener, 1979 and Grimshaw, 1982). On the one hand the method is assumed, by implication, to have limited impact on the data, the taped image being treated as a replica of the unrecorded event (Vihman and Greenlee, 1987; Vuchinich, 1986). On the other, it is suggested that the video camera has a uniquely distorting effect on the researched phenomenon (Gottdiener, 1979:61; Heider, 1976:49). Research participants, it is argued, demonstrate a reactive effect to the video process such that data is meaningful only if special precautions are taken to validate it. Strategies suggested include a covert approach to the data collection itself (cf. Eibl-Eibesfeldt and Haass, 1974, Gottdiener, 1979; Albrecht, 1985) or the application of triangulative techniques such as respondent validation (Gottdiener, 1979; Albrecht, 1985 and Arborelius and Timpka, 1990). In this paper we suggest that both these views are problematic. The insistence of one on marginalising the role of the research process and the other on attempting to separate the process from the research data is at the expense of exploring the degree to which the process helps socially and interactionally produce the data. As we demonstrate, the activity of data collection is constitutive of the very interaction which is then subsequently available for investigation. A reflexive analysis of this relationship is therefore essential. Video generated data is an ideal resource in as far as it can provide a faithful record of the process as an aspect of the naturally occurring interaction which comprises the research topic.

Negotiating Selves: Reflections on 'Unstructured' Interviewing

Peter Collins
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 2

Keywords: Dialogism; Emotions; Interviewing; Narrative; Qualitative Methodology; Self
Abstract: In this paper I reflect on a series of informal or 'unstructured' interviews with people experiencing chronic job insecurity. I show that far from being merely a source of data these interviews are dynamic social interactions wherein multiple dialogues are conducted between multiple selves. I argue that because interviews are epistemologically ambiguous, morally ambivalent and emotionally charged they cannot be seen simply as repositories of 'objective facts' but should also be understood as mutually constructed social events with an existential quality sui generis.

Hypermedia and Ethnography: Reflections on the Construction of a Research Approach

Bella Dicks and Bruce Mason
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 3

Keywords: CAQDAS; Computers; Ethnography; Hypermedia; Methodology; New Media; Qualitative Research; Visual Ethnography
Abstract: Current interest in ethnography within social research has focused on its potential to offer insights into the complexity of the social world. There have increasingly been calls for ethnography to reflect this complexity more adequately. Two aspects of ethnographic enquiry have been particularly singled out as areas in need of redefinition: the delineation of ethnography's object of study and its mode of presentation. Both of these areas are implicated in the recent attention to the possibilities of hypermedia authoring for ethnography. The paper offers a discussion of this potential in the light of an ongoing research project with which the authors are engaged. The project is designed to enable this potential to be assessed, and to provide for the construction of what the authors call an ethnographic hypermedia environment (EHE). We believe that the promise of hypermedia lies not only in its facility for non-sequential data organisation, but also in its ability to integrate data in different media. The synthesis of the visual, aural, verbal and pictorial planes of meaning holds considerable promise for the expansion and deepening of ethnographic knowledge. Consequently, we suggest that hypermedia has implications for all stages of the research process, and argue against the current tendency to see it as merely a tool either for analysis or for presentation. These arguments are illustrated by means of a commentary on some work in progress.

Choosing Qualitative Data Analysis Software: Atlas/ti and Nudist Compared

Christine Barry
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 4

Keywords: CAQDAS; Chaos Theory; Computer Software; Conceptual Network Software; Hypertext; Qualitative Research
Abstract: Choosing between Nudist and Atlas/ti, the main qualitative data analysis software packages can be difficult. To assist researchers in making this choice, I have conceptualised their differences along two dimensions, related to the qualities of the software and of the research project. The software dimension is structural design, and the project dimension is complexity. Software structure is dichotomised between structured, sequential, verbal versus visual, spatial, interconnected modes of operation. Projects are dichotomised between homogeneous sample, short timeframe, single data-type, single data analyst; versus multiple samples, longitudinal data, multiple data types and team data analysis. First I review the CAQDAS literature. Then I outline the different personalities and strengths of Atlas/ti and Nudist, and show how they match these dimensions. I offer suggestions as to how to choose, and whether to use in tandem with complementary conceptual network software.

The Interaction of Gender, Class and Place in Women's Experience: a Discussion Based in Focus Group Research

Gill Callaghan
Sociological Research Online 3 (3) 8

Keywords: Class; Culture; Gender; Locality; Place
Abstract: There has been considerable debate about the relative significance of class and gender as factors structuring women's lives. This article reports focus group research which reflects upon that relationship. It argues that we must also understand the significance of place if we are to make sense of the ways in which women's domestic and working lives are shaped and their action in response to structural change. The research is situated in an old industrial city which has experienced very fundamental processes of restructuring. Changes in the nature of work, the move from full to part time, from permanent, skilled manual to casual semi and unskilled work has been reflected in the gendered restructuring of the workforce and a considerable rise in male unemployment. The article reports focus group work with women at mother and toddler groups. These groups were important as a way of gaining access to women who were at a particular point in the lifestage when the dominant concerns might be expected to be domestic ones. Mother and toddler groups are also locality based allowing the significance of place in people's discussions to be understood. The groups discussed experiences of work and domestic relations which expressed identifications and differences based in class, gender and place. While the effects of restructuring were universally recognised as bringing change, women identified differences in the nature and pace of change based on the interaction of structural forces.

Gender Differences at Work: International Variations in Occupational Segregation

Jennifer Jarman, Robert M Blackburn, Bradley Brooks and Esther Dermott
Sociological Research Online 4 (1) jarman

Keywords: Census/Survey Data; Cross-National Trends; Employment; Employment Patterns; Gender Inequality; Methodology; Occupations; Social Division of Labour; Sociology; Work
Abstract: Despite the prominence of discussions of gender segregation in explanations of labour market inequalities, there have been relatively few cross-national studies due to a lack of suitably detailed data. A recent ILO initiative obtained suitable data for cross-national analysis of 38 countries, with a much greater number of occupational categories than has usually been available. This paper reports findings from the analysis of these data. The problems and potential of using such data are discussed and a standardisation is introduced to control for the effects of the number of occupations in the segregation measure. There are important differences in the level of segregation in different countries. The highly segregated countries are to be found in Western Europe, and in particular Scandinavia. Several Arab countries also have high levels of segregation. An argument is made suggesting that the context and meaning of segregation patterns may be quite different from what might be inferred from single country studies.

Consciousness in Transition: A Case Study of Social Identity Formation in KwaZulu-Natal Study Description and Methodology

T Marcus and Desireé Manicom
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) marcus

Keywords: Children; Class; Consciousness; Describe; Gender; Methodology; Race; Rationale; School
Abstract: The aim of this article is to describe the Class Race and Gender (CRG) Research Programme. The CRG research programme aims to explore the development of consciousness in South Africa, to understand how we come to be the black and white, rural and urban, rich and poor and men and women who make up our stratified and differentiated society and to identify and assess the impact of changes over time. This complex problem is being investigated through a study of class, race and gender identity formation in the first generation of children entering the new, compulsory education system. This article specifically tries to document the research process; its methodology and the instruments which were used and developed in order to engage with the issues under investigation. The article also tries to explain the rationale informing the choice of the sample and methods and describes how these research methods were implemented. Research with people is always interactive and reflexive, even if the researchers do not concern themselves with what the research might contribute to respondents. Yet, in questions there are ideas and information which people think about and learn from. Research is or can be a learning process for respondents. For respondents (and researchers) there is a continual tension between the limits of research (finding out) and the possibilities of intervention (acting out).

Conducting Qualitative Research on Wife Abuse: Dealing with the Issue of Anxiety.

Sevaste Chatzifotiou
Sociological Research Online 5 (2) chatzifotiou

Keywords: Anxiety; Domestic Violence; Fieldwork; Qualitative Research; Women
Abstract: Abused women are a very sensitive group with whom to conduct research. As such, researchers need to be aware of this inherent sensitivity and should design their research accordingly. The ethics of social research, the implications of conducting research on sensitive topics, the possible exposition of the participants to stressful moments for the sake of the interview are important issues to be taken under serious consideration by the researcher prior to undertaking the fieldwork. However, during the fieldwork the researcher might face issues which she had paid less attention to while designing the inquiry, namely issues of dealing with the anxiety that the interviews would expose on herself too.It is well recognised in the literature that the rights and safety of the participants must be of paramount importance to the researchers in every research project. Still, the researcher's 'safety' should not be underestimated or be given little attention. This paper, based on the experience of conducting research with abused women documents the issue of researcher's anxiety which was a salient issue throughout the study. Documenting the research process, from the research design through to issues which arose after the fieldwork, the paper draws attention on the issue of anxiety experienced by the researcher in various stages of the research, including prior, during and after leaving the field, and provides ways that these were dealt with.

Can't Talk, Won't Talk?: Methodological Issues in Researching Children

Jeni Harden, Sue Scott, Kathryn Backett-Milburn and Stevi Jackson
Sociological Research Online 5 (2) harden

Keywords: Childhood; Children; Methodology; Research Methods
Abstract: In this paper we explore some current issues in, what has come to be called, the new sociology of childhood and how these relate to the process of researching children's lives in general, and to our own research in particular. We discuss the developmental model of childhood, before going on to explore ideas about children as, on the one hand, inhabiting a relatively autonomous realm and, on the other as part of the same social world as adults but with different sets of competencies. The implications of these differing positions for researching children will be assessed prior to a discussion of the design of our current research, on children and risk, and the wider implications of our reflections on the research process.

The Internet Matters: Exploring the Use of the Internet as a Research Tool

Nicola Illingworth
Sociological Research Online 6 (2) illingworth

Keywords: Computer Mediated Communication CMC); E-mail Interviewing; Ethics; Feminist Methodology; Internet Methodology; Methodological Dangers
Abstract: The arrival of the virtual realm and computer mediated communication (CMC) continues to attract considerable interest from a wide range of disciplines. Hine (2000) has suggested that previously negative understandings of CMC have been transcended. The virtual realm is now welcomed as a site for richer and more sustained interaction than previously envisaged. For the research community, the rapid development of the World Wide Web has opened new horizons and provided access to a new frontier and tool for data collection. The researcher can now engage in research on a world-wide, low cost, almost instantaneous scale - and in ways which potentially overcome some of the barriers imposed by more conventional research approaches. However, this somewhat idealistic view obscures both methodological and ethical difficulties that have become apparent throughout this research. If these difficulties are left unchecked, they may serve to undermine the use of the Internet as a tool for social research. The primary aim of this paper is to expose these difficulties and thus broaden the scope of discourse surrounding the Internet. A secondary aim is to explore the implications of the use of the Internet for the feminist methodological and research project. My aim here is to problematise the transference of existing methodological frameworks to an online setting. In this respect, I have presented this paper in the form of a research trajectory, outlining the course of my research from its conception to latter stages. The intention here is to suggest an avoidance of the use of the Internet as an 'easy option' and encourage a more developed focus on the justification, applicability and benefits of Internet research to the particular project. What has become apparent is that the effectiveness of CMC is much dependent on who is being researched, what is being researched and why.

The Piano in the Parlour: Methodological Issues in the Conduct of a Restudy

Charlotte Aull Davies and Nickie Charles
Sociological Research Online 7 (2) davies

Keywords: Comparison; Family; Household; Methodology; Re-study; Social Change
Abstract: AbstractAlthough re-studies are relatively rare in sociological research, they can be very valuable resources for understanding social change. However, they also raise methodological questions about the validity of comparison given the inevitable changes in both social and analytical contexts during the period between the original and the re-study. This paper considers such methodological issues with reference to a major restudy in the area of family and household research. By looking at some of the details of research design in this re-study, we argue that reflexive consideration of relevant changes makes possible an examined and modified research design that retains much of the original and alters the remainder in ways that still allow for meaningful comparison.

Dealing with Dirt: Servicing and Repairing Cars

Tim Dant and David Bowles
Sociological Research Online 8 (2) dant

Keywords: Cars; Dirt; Material Culture; Sociology Of Work; Video Data
Abstract: This paper explores the significance of dirt in the work of technicians who service and repair private cars. Rather than being useful in understanding how dirt is dealt with, the historical and anthropological analyses of dirt are shown to be overly concerned with cultural significance and the idea that dirt is no more than 'matter out of place'. Such accounts suppress the more common sense approach that dirt is unpleasant to human beings and is to be avoided if possible. In work such as garage servicing and repairs, dirt has to be confronted and dealt with pragmatically, according to the consequences of its presence, rather than symbolically according to its cultural meaning. The writing of Sartre on slime provides a more persuasive explanation both for the ambivalence towards ambiguous materials of slime and dirt and for the moral connotations that attach to them. Everett Hughes's account of a 'moral division of labour' in which distinctions are made concerning dirty work fits with some of the visible hierarchical distinctions in the garage setting. But it is the variability of practices, both between garages and between technicians in a similar setting, that suggests dealing with dirt is a practical matter that is not prescribed by ritual or cultural significance.

Making Connections: the Relationship between Train Travel and the Processes of Work and Leisure

Gayle Letherby and Gillian Reynolds
Sociological Research Online 8 (3) letherby

Keywords: Leisure; Place; Space; Time; Tourist Gaze; Train Travel; Work
Abstract: Many volumes have been written cataloguing and detailing the long-term or historical changes in the process of work. Similarly, much attention has been given to 'doing leisure'. What most, if not all of these works have in common is that both work and leisure are seen as taking place either 'in' or 'away from' the home. The space between home and the place of work or leisure is seen as a separate entity: the 'travel' for which one normally requires a means of transport. Transport then is theorized as simply a way of getting from A to B. Indeed, those who study and theorise about transport are more likely to be in the discipline of engineering than of sociology. In this article we challenge all of this through a consideration of the work and leisure that individuals undertake on the train. We draw on own experience and on empirical data from a pilot study of train users and also outline our future research and writing plans in this area.

Trees Don't Talk: A Methodological Account of a Forest Sociologist in Mexico

Ross Mitchell
Sociological Research Online 9 (1) mitchell

Keywords: Community Forestry; Fieldwork; Methodology; Mexico; Oaxaca; Researcher Privilege; Sociology
Abstract: This paper examines personal experience as both a sociologist and forester collecting data in the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. It builds on writings where researchers have taken an introspective or auto/biographical approach to problematizing their own involvement. My findings illustrate that demographic and social features such as gender, nationality, and language can both hinder and privilege social science research. Moreover, this paper disputes the contention that expertise in a given specialty automatically makes for good field research. Depending upon the type of research and the questions being addressed, previous professional experience may actually hinder the building of rapport in certain cases. Genuine efforts to engage in local discourse can ultimately serve to improve fieldwork, and contribute to mutual understanding.

The Order of Service: the Practical Management of Customer Interaction

Barry Brown
Sociological Research Online 9 (4) brown

Keywords: Consumption, Ethnomethodology, Shopping, Tourism, Video Methods
Abstract: This paper discusses a pervasive yet neglected form of social interaction, that between service staff and customers. Observational and video data from two different shop settings are used to explore three aspects of service interactions. First, queues are discussed, a mundane yet massively prevalent device for managing when and how customers are served. Queues depend on customers ability to 'work the queue', to be able to see who is queuing and their place in the queue. This rests not only on the recognition of queuing behaviour, but also its production by those queuing. Second, artefacts in shop settings have not only a material role, but are resources used in interaction. For example, the shop counter is both a surface to place goods, and a shared space between customer and staff where the placement of goods has meaning in interaction. Third, in the service interact itself staff and customers manage their interactions using rhetorical devices. Devices such as the three part list display can be used to show the validity of advice being given. From these observations we draw two conclusions: Behaviour in service settings has a strong moral component in that divergences from correct behaviour (such as queue skipping) are quickly sanctioned. This morality is from those in the setting, rather than an analyst's judgement, suggesting that the morality of economic markets can be studied as an endogenous feature. Second, customer service relies upon a prevalent yet powerful 'ordinary vision' - the skills of seeing, but also producing, the predictable actions that make up the order of service.

A Profile of Fatherhood Among Young Men: Moving Away from Their Birth Family and Closer to Their Child.

Anne Quéniart
Sociological Research Online 9 (4) queniart

Keywords: Fatherhood, Young Fathers, Representation, Paternal Identity, Qualitative Research
Abstract: Have things changed all that much in terms of how fatherhood is conceptualized and exercised in daily life? That is the question underlying this article. The author compares the findings of a recent analysis on certain aspects of the lived experiences of young fathers (under 25 years of age) with the results of studies undertaken over the past ten years, and replies in the affirmative. First of all, when considering the representations held of fathers or mothers, most of these young fathers believe that their role is a multi-faceted one, and that it is often identical to that of their spouse. According to young fathers, fatherhood is a dual experience that requires them to be present on a daily basis while also casting their eye on the future. This is an experience that is constructed out of affectionate moments, child-care duties, education in the literal sense, and especially out of shared experiences with their spouse. In addition, they question the degree to which involvement in a career should take precedence over involvement in their child's life. In other words, the former 'competes' with their ability to be present in their child's daily life, which denotes a change from the attitudes of previous generations.

Social Life Under the Microscope?

Monika Büscher
Sociological Research Online 10 (1) buscher

Keywords: Video Analysis, Time, Socio-Technical Change, Practical Creativity, Imagination,
Abstract: Video is an important new instrument for sociological research, sometimes welcomed as the 'microscope' of social science. It provides access to important and otherwise difficult to examine aspects of human interaction. Moreover, because video captures practice in its lived production as 'another next first time' (Garfinkel 1992), it makes it possible to study practical creativity - the way in which people invent new practices. In this paper I probe the microscope metaphor through concrete examples from my work with landscape architects and computer scientists in participatory technology research and design projects.

The Geographical Mobility, Preferences and Pleasures of Prolific Punters: a Demonstration Study of the Activities of Prostitutes' Clients

Keith Soothill and Teela Sanders
Sociological Research Online 10 (1) soothill

Keywords: Internet Methodology, Computer Mediated Communication, Prostitution, Clients, Punters, Sex Work
Abstract: Clients of prostitutes have been traditionally neglected in the study of prostitution. This demonstration study suggests that the Internet, particularly one prominent website for patrons of commercial sex in Britain, can assist in learning more about the activities of prostitutes' clients, their patterns of behaviour and the organisation of commercial sex in contemporary society. The specific focus here is on the geographical locations of the paid sexual encounters of the ten most prolific authors who contribute to a popular website. It reveals 105 different locations identified in the reports with some punters travelling extensively for their pleasures. The study then focuses on a comparison of the activities of two of these punters showing how they both largely inhabit different worlds of the sex industry but also share some experiences. This paper contributes additional knowledge about prostitution at several levels: first, a microanalysis of a small sample of clients' purchasing patterns highlights the habits of some prolific patrons; second, alongside these patterns, the website offers a window onto the hidden world of prostitution in late modernity which in turn reveals some organisational features of prostitution; and third, the use of the Internet as a qualitative data source is explored.

Content, Context, Reflexivity and the Qualitative Research Encounter: Telling Stories in the Virtual Realm

Nicola Illingworth
Sociological Research Online 11 (1) illingworth

Keywords: Qualitative Methodology; Computer-Mediated Communication; Biographical Methods; Reflexivity
Abstract: The arrival of the virtual realm and computer-mediated communication (CMC) has attracted considerable interest within the discipline. However, the full potential of computer-mediated conversation as both a research resource and medium of communication within the qualitative research encounter awaits further exploration. In this paper, I discuss the dimensions of the qualitative 'tradition', the recent burgeoning interest in biographical methods shaping the research agenda and the significance of the virtual realm as a locus of communication. In so doing, I draw from my recent research exploring 15 women's accounts of their experiences of infertility and assisted reproductive procedures. Often, the qualitative encounter becomes a shared medium of trust, reciprocity and revelation. This research highlights the importance of not just making 'space' for participants voices and words but of acknowledging the significance of the context of communication itself – paying attention to 'where' and 'how' we speak is as critical as paying attention to what might be said. Participants within this study used and translated virtual text and virtual participation into a sense-making vehicle. In this respect, the virtual space offers a new dimension to the qualitative research encounter and we need to remain aware of the opportunities this affords.

Putting It into Practice: Using Feminist Fractured Foundationalism in Researching Children in the Concentration Camps of the South African War

Liz Stanley and Sue Wise
Sociological Research Online 11 (1) stanley

Keywords: Feminist Fractured Foundationalism, Feminist Methodology, Feminist Epistemology, Feminist Sociology, South African War 1899-1902, Concentration Camps, Children, Retrievable Documents, Photographs
Abstract: Feminist fractured foundationalism has been developed over a series of collaborative writings as a combined epistemology and methodology, although it has mainly been discussed in epistemological terms. It was operationalised as a methodology in a joint research project in South Africa concerned with investigating two important ways that the experiences of children in the South African War 1899-1902, in particular in the concentration camps established during its commando and 'scorched earth' phase, were represented contemporaneously: in the official records, and in photography. The details of the research and writing process involved are provided around discussion of the nine strategies that compose feminist fractured foundationalism and its strengths and limitations in methodological terms are reviewed.

Beyond 'Juggling' and 'Flexibility': Classed and Gendered Experiences of Combining Employment and Motherhood

Jo Armstrong
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) armstrong

Keywords: Class, Gender, Women, Employment, Motherhood, Feminism, Bourdieu, Habitus, Life-Course, Qualitative Research.
Abstract: This paper proposes that there is a need to push beyond the popular discourses of 'flexibility' and 'work-life balance'. Developing a feminist-Bourdieuian approach and drawing on three illustrative case studies from my interview research with 27 mothers in the UK, I show the importance of maintaining a focus on class and gender inequalities. In the first part of the paper the concepts of capitals, dependencies and habitus which shaped, and were shaped by, this interview research are discussed. An analysis of three women's accounts of their experiences across work and family life is then used to illustrate that although these women all used terms such as 'flexibility' and 'juggling' in describing their work, the experience of that work was crucially influenced by their histories and current positioning. Tracing each of these women's trajectories from school, attention is focused on the influence of differential access to capitals and relations of dependency in the emergence of their dispositions toward work. Overall, the paper points to the significance of examining the classed and gendered dimensions of women's experiences of employment and motherhood.

Research Identities: Reflections of a Contract Researcher

Jackie Goode
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) goode

Keywords: Taylorisation; Academic Work; Identities; Qualitative Research; In-Depth Interviews; Reflective Practice
Abstract: This paper examines the institutional identity formation of contract research staff in the context of the Taylorisation of research knowledges. The author has been a contract researcher for many years, after initially training and practising as a Probation Officer. She makes links between her social work training, and her current practice as a qualitative researcher. Drawing on her experience of working on a variety of different projects, at a number of different institutions, and providing illustrative examples from projects in sociology, social policy, health, and education, she reflects on the implications of the current social organization of academic research both for professional research practice and for researcher identity. There is a paradox in the way that contract research staff accrue a wealth of experience of how research is organised and conducted in different contexts, a repertoire of skills, and a vast volume of various kinds of 'data', whilst remaining vulnerable and marginalized figures within the academy, with few opportunities for professional development and advancement. She outlines a number of strategies she has employed in the preservation of the 'research self', and concludes by suggesting that the academy has much to learn about the effective management of 'waste', as embodied by researchers' selves and their data, consequent upon the Taylorisation of research work.

Out and About: Negotiating the Layers of Being out in the Process of Disclosure of Lesbian Parenthood

Kathryn Almack
Sociological Research Online 12 (1) almack

Keywords: Lesbian Parents, Stigma, Coming Out, Family Lives, Motherhood, Qualitative Research
Abstract: Discussion of coming out within lesbian and gay academic literature has focussed primarily on the individual process and consequences of disclosing a lesbian/gay identity. Drawing upon data from a qualitative research study of 20 lesbian parent families in the UK, who had planned and had their first child together, this paper considers dimensions of coming out that arise for lesbian parents having children in an openly lesbian relationship. To date little attention has been paid to these dimensions. Women identified how having children revealed new layers of being out as parenthood brought them into contact with a whole new range of people, settings and networks. Negotiating recognition of their parental and familial status involves making decisions about when, where and how to come out in these new settings and women also faced renegotiations of an acceptance of their lesbian identity and parenthood with family members. This paper utilises stigma theory to examine some of the additional complexities related to the decisions and negotiations involved in being out as lesbian parent families.

Sites of Memory or Aids to Multiculturalism? Conflicting Uses of Jewish Heritage Sites

David Clark
Sociological Research Online 12 (2) clark

Keywords: Jewish Heritage Sites, Ghettos, Places of Memory, Multiculturalism and Educational Objectives, Urban Regeneration, Discourse Theory, Museum As Contact Zone.
Abstract: The immediate postwar in Europe was characterised by collective amnesia concerning where Jews had lived prior to the Holocaust. By the 1970s and mid-1980s, there was a revival of interest in residential areas, synagogues and cemeteries connected with a Jewish past, right throughout Europe, including former communist countries in the 1990s. This resulted in much renovation and the attempt to provide new uses for such sites as museums and cultural centres. My paper focuses on the shift in emphasis from the need to preserve such sites as places of memory to an increasing concern with other issues. Such issues range from tourism promotion to the promotion of multiculturalism. This emphasis on preparing the younger generation for a future in a new multicultural state provides much of the motivation for central and local government to lend support to such initiatives, whether in Sweden, Germany or Italy, for instance. The paper focuses on the Jewish Museum in Bologna, where I conducted fieldwork between 1999 and 2002. The study illustrates the mix of policy objectives involved, such as heritage preservation, urban regeneration, cultural policy and educational objectives. The theoretical discussion seeks to combine Clifford's notion of the museum as a contact zone (Clifford, 1997) with Foucault's notions on discourse formation (Foucault, 1972). In the process, the analysis of the museum's political economy extends beyond the four walls of the museum into the adjoining space of the ghetto and the city.

Embarrassment as a Key Emotion in Young People Talking About Sexual Health

Edwin vanTeijlingen, Jennifer Reid, Janet Shucksmith, Fiona Harris, Kate Philip, Mari Imamura, Janet Tucker and Gillian Penney
Sociological Research Online 12 (2) van_teijlingen

Keywords: Sexual Health Services, Adolescence, School, Scotland, Emotion, Qualitative Research, Sex Education, Parents, Focus Groups, Relationships
Abstract: This paper highlights embarrassment as one of the often-ignored emotions of young people when it comes to discussing issues around sexual health. There have been many sexual health studies on knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of young people over the past two decades, but emotional aspects have been largely ignored, despite a growing literature in the sociology of emotion. A qualitative approach was adopted in the form of focus group discussions, which included questions on sex education, sexual health campaigns and formal and informal sources of sexual health information and advice. Focus groups were conducted in secondary schools in and around Edinburgh and Aberdeen as part of a four-year evaluation study of a Scottish Demonstration Project on young people's sexual health: 'Healthy Respect'. We conclude that is it important for policy makers and sexual health promoters to understand young people's notions of embarrassment. Not only are there elements of sex education that (some) young people perceive as embarrassing, they also sense embarrassment in those people providing them with sex education. Young people reported that both professionals (e.g. teachers and doctors) and their parents could be embarrassed about raising the topic of sexual health. Moreover, as one of the goals of sex education is to ensure an open and non-embarrassing attitude towards sex and sexuality, there is still a major gap between the aspirations of health educators and policy makers and the ways that young people experience such education.

(Re)Using Qualitative Data?

Niamh Moore
Sociological Research Online 12 (3) 1

Keywords: ESDS Qualidata / Qualitative Methodology / Reusing Qualitative Data / Secondary Analysis / Secondary Data
Abstract: Recent interest by social scientists in the questions posed by reusing qualitative data has been prompted by two related events. The first is the establishment of the Qualitative Data Archival Resource Centre (QUALIDATA, and, since 2003, ESDS Qualidata) at the University of Essex in 1994. The second is the publication of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Datasets Policy (1996) which asks that those in receipt of ESRC grants offer copies of their data for deposit to QUALIDATA. This perceived injunction to archive data has been met with resistance by recalcitrant researchers who are wary of the implications of depositing data, and the possibilities of reusing data. The debate risks becoming polarised between those advocating the archiving and reuse of qualitative data, and those more sceptical of these possibilities. This paper aims to open up this debate and to seek a more fruitful path between these positions. I begin by calling into question the supposed 'newness' of reusing qualitative data, through turning to examine some of the assumptions embedded in the key terms and premises of the debate thus far, including the reliance on distinctions between primary and secondary data and primary and secondary analysis. I examine some common tropes in accounts of reusing data: comparisons with secondary analysis of quantitative data; efforts to distinguish between reusing qualitative data in a sociological context and other disciplinary and methodological traditions; and reliance on particular interpretations of key principles of qualitative research, context and reflexivity, in establishing the challenges of the reusing of qualitative data. I suggest that reuse may be more productively understood as a process of recontextualising data, and that attending to the reflexive production of data in the contemporary research project may offer more hopeful possibilities for reuse. I conclude by offering some reflections on why discussions of reusing qualitative data appear to have become so fraught.

'Re-Using' Qualitative Data: on the Merits of an Investigative Epistemology

Jennifer Mason
Sociological Research Online 12 (3) 3

Keywords: Qualitative Research / Re-Using Qualitative Data / Secondary Analysis / Investigative Epistemology
Abstract: This article is written to accompany and respond to the articles that form the special issue of Sociological Research Online on 'Re-using qualitative data'. It argues that the articles are a welcome contribution, because they help to move the debate beyond moralistic and polarised positions, to demonstrate instead with what sociologists can achieve by 're-using' qualitative data. The article argues for an investigative epistemology and investigative practices to guide qualitative data use and 're-use', and suggests that this is particularly important in the current social research climate.

What's [Yet] to Be Seen? Re-Using Qualitative Data

Elizabeth B. Silva
Sociological Research Online 12 (3) 4

Keywords: Secondary Data Analysis, Ethnography, Visual Methodology, Academic Careers
Abstract: This paper considers current debates about re-using qualitative research data by reflecting on its implications for the nature of social science knowledge created in this process and the ways in which the disclosure of researchers' practices are linked with the making of professional academic careers. It examines a research project using two different approaches – a 'virtual' and a 'classic' ethnography – to argue that issues concerned with re-use of data depend on the methods employed and the overall processes of investigation. The paper argues for an appreciation of the contexts involved in the generation of research material which takes into account both the development of the study and related fieldwork processes as well as the academic context in which knowledge is produced, particularly those involved in the construction of academic selves and professional careers, which are part of a wider situation bearing upon scientific enquiry.

Constructing Meaningful Lives: Biographical Methods in Research on Migrant Women

Umut Erel
Sociological Research Online 12 (4) 5

Keywords: Migration, Gender, Ethnicity, Life-Story, Methodology, Britain, Germany, Structural and Cultural Readings, Subjugated Knowledges
Abstract: The article argues that biographical methods are particularly suited to shift the methodological and theoretical premises of migration research to foreground the agency and subjectivity of migrant women. It is argued that structural and cultural readings can usefully be applied to the self-representations of migrant women. The context of migrant women's self-representations is explored through looking at the story-telling communities they develop and through the expert knowledges of institutions regulating migration. The dichotomisation of unique versus collective modes of life-stories is questioned. Applying the Foucauldian concept of subjugated knowledges, it is argued that migrant women's life-stories hold transformative potential for producing knowledges critical of gendered and ethnocised power relations that research should pay attention to.

Mixed Communities Require Mixed Theories: Using Mills to Broaden Goffman's Exploration of Identity Within the GBLT Communities

Dann Hoxsey
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 10

Keywords: Mills, Goffman, Gay, Queer, Mixed-Methods, Methodology, Reflexivity, Sociological Imagination, Symbolic Interactionism, Class
Abstract: The central objective of this paper is to attempt to counter an overly-rigid theoretical approach in data analysis. Implicit in the push to identify and follow one proper theoretical stream is the idea that one's particular theoretical approach will always be plausible and contains an inherent 'value' over any other approach. That being said, the purpose of this paper is two-fold. The first is to argue that a rigid theoretical approach to understanding people from non-homogenized communities leaves the analysis wanting. Instead, I refer to a more flexible nature of using a mixed-method approach to analysis, which will generate an appropriately pluralistic representation of someone from a pluralist community. Secondly, this paper suggests that a mixed-method approach should include both a micro and a macro analysis. In this vein, I put forward the benefits of combining the theoretical approaches of both Goffman and Mills. In doing so, I am not suggesting that Goffman and Mills are the only theorists to use. Rather, the combination of these two theories is useful for understanding an intersubjective approach to myself. A flexible epistemological approach would recognize that other situations might call for the use of other theorists.

Women Parenting Together: a Reflexive Account of the Ways in Which the Researcher's Identity and Experiences May Impact on the Processes of Doing Research

Kathryn Almack
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 4

Keywords: Hidden Populations; Insider/outsider; Lesbian Parent Families Research Methodologies; Sensitive Research, Qualitative Research
Abstract: It is often suggested that in carrying out research into the lives of LGBT people, researchers have an advantage if they share the same sexual orientation with their respondents – including greater access to respondents and the production of research accounts that perhaps have greater validity. However the process of doing research and writing up research is more complex than this suggests. In this article I seek to examine some of these assumptions in greater depth. A central (although not exclusive) concern of feminist debates is the extent to which the researcher's identity and experiences impact on the processes of doing research - and as such, the extent to which these should be made explicit. In examining some of these complexities, I draw upon these debates, the experiences of other researchers in the field of LGBT research and my own research examining the family lives of twenty lesbian parent families in the UK. I conclude that the ways in which the researcher may be positioned as an insider/outsider in research can be particularly complex and these issues are particularly salient when choosing research topics to which the researcher has some level of personal and/or political commitment.

Researching Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Christians and Muslims: Some Thematic Reflections

Andrew K. T. Yip
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 5

Keywords: Lesbian; Gay; Bisexual; Christian; Muslim; Identity; Methodology; Sampling; Hidden Population
Abstract: This paper highlights some thematic reflections primarily based on two empirical research projects on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) Christians and Muslims. It begins by discussing reflexivity by way of contextualising the subsequent exploration of specific themes. This is followed by a discussion of the plight of LGB Christians and Muslims which renders research on this population highly sensitive. The paper then explores the theme of researching meanings and lived experiences sensitively, focusing on the importance of being theoretically and culturally sensitive; and the relevance of methodological pragmatism and pluralism. It then proceeds to a detailed discussion of accessing 'hidden' populations and trust building; and the dynamics of the insider/outsider status. The paper concludes with a call for LGB research to take seriously intersectionality of contemporary LGB identity (e.g. sexual, religious, cultural, ethnic), and the role of religion/spirituality in LGB lives and politics.

Finding the Way to the End of the Rainbow: a Researcher's Insight Investigating British Older Gay Men's Lives

Adrian Lee
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 6

Keywords: Older Gay Men; Homosexuality; Ageing; Gender; Qualitative Methodology; Semi-Structured-Interview; Reflexivity
Abstract: This paper draws on exploratory research examining the sexual and ageing identities of gay men in England and the way in which these affect welfare needs and service use experiences. In this case, the focus is not upon the research findings per se, but on the research methods used to elucidate them. The author theorises about the ways in which the qualitative interviewing that took place was influenced by his age, homosexuality, and gender during the interaction with older gay men. The conclusions are that the shared gender and sexual orientation (although not without their differences) were crucial to the successful completion of the research and in trying to ensure participants felt valued and empowered. Therefore, it is asserted from this that increasingly reflexive research is paramount to the development of qualitative methodologies and gerontology, to ensure the academe is inclusive of diverse identities and that its research stands up to rigorous scrutiny.

The Sociology of Lesbian and Gay Reflexivity or Reflexive Sociology?

Brian Heaphy
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 9

Keywords: Difference, Gay, Lesbian, Methodology, Power, Sexualities, Reflexivity
Abstract: This article is concerned with sociological conceptualisations of lesbian and gay sexualities as reflexive forms of existence, and identifies core problems with these. Our sociological narratives about lesbian and gay reflexivity tend to be partial in two senses. First, they talk about and envision only very particular - and relatively exclusive – experience, and fail to adequately account for the significance of difference and power in shaping diverse lesbian and gay experiences. Second, they tend to be underpinned by overly affirmative and normative projects, and are often narratives about how lesbian and gay life should be. Our narratives about lesbian and gay reflexivity sometimes confuse analysis with prescription, and actualities with potentialities. Their partiality limits the analytical purchase they afford, and is an inadequate basis on which to analyse contemporary lesbian and gay identities and ways of living. The article proposes an approach to studying lesbian and gay living that is orientated more towards reflexive sociology than the sociology of reflexive sexualities.

Reading Foucault: Genealogy and Social Science Research Methodology and Ethics

Wendy Bastalich
Sociological Research Online 14 (2) 3

Keywords: Social Sciences, Methodology, Research Ethics, Research Epistemology, Foucault, Qualitative Methodology
Abstract: Foucault's work has given rise to an increased methodological sensitivity of the political dangers associated with traditional qualitative approaches in the social sciences. There is a growing awareness that the widespread use of the research interview is not indicative of a deepening insight into the workings of culture, but is part of a broader social technology for its reproduction. In an effort to re-imagine interview methodology, scholars have read Foucault to suggest the need for greater attention to the active co-construction of research conclusions arising from interview based research. Specifically there are concerns that the authenticity of interviewee experience may be overwritten by the predispositions of the researcher. This paper questions this interpretation of Foucault's work and argues that Foucault rejects the view that knowledge emerges from the active social constructions of agents, but sees knowledge as an outcome, often accidental, of interrelated historical practices and discourses that produce the subjects and objects of social science discourse. The implications of Foucault's work for thinking about research ethics is not a return to authenticity, but a rejection of representational claims. The paper comprises a review of social science responses to post structural insights, coverage of the critical epistemological differences between Foucault's method and other key social theory paradigms, and a discussion of the critical ethical issues these differences raise for the social sciences.

Work as Community: Narratives of Solidarity and Teamwork in the Contemporary Workplace, Who Owns Them?

Gillian Vogl
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 4

Keywords: Qualitative Research Methodologies, Workplace, Organisational Culture, Teamwork, Manufactured Community, Community, Solidarity, Post-Fordism, Fordism
Abstract: The workplace provides a very important context for the development of community. Structural changes that have occurred in the workplace in the last 25 years have impacted on how community has been constructed and experienced in the workplace. These structural changes have often been accompanied by particular types of organisational cultures and forms of work organisation. One such form of work organisation has been teamwork. Some have argued that management induced forms of employee collectivism, such as teamwork hasundermined more genuine employee generated forms of community and solidarity. Through in-depth interviews with employees in a number of organisations from two research projects, this article explores employee's experiences of community and highlights the different ways in which teamwork is interpreted and experienced by workers.

Apocalypse in the Long Run: Reflections on Huge Comparisons in the Study of Modernity

John R. Hall
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 10

Keywords: Conflict, Generalization, Historical Sociology, Historicism,, Lifeworld, Methodology, Modernity, Phenomenology, Religion, Temporality, Theory
Abstract: Methodologies of historical sociology face research problems centered on the instability of historical referents, their historical non-independence, and the privileging of objective time of the clock and calendar. The present essay, by reflecting on an analysis of the apocalyptic in the long run (Hall 2009), proposes the potential to solve these problems by way of a phenomenology of history, which analyzes the enactment and interplay of multiple social temporalities. Whereas high-modern theories of modernity tended to portray a secular trend toward the triumph of rationalized social order centered in diachronic time, analysis of the historical emergence of apocalyptic times in relation to other temporalities especially objective (or diachronic) temporalities, the here-and-now, and the collective synchronic reveals that the apocalyptic has survived within modernity through the articulation of rationalized diachronic time with the sacred strategic time of apocalyptically framed 'holy war.' Overall, the 'empire of modernity' is a hybrid formation that bridges diachronic and strategic temporalities. Despite diachronic developments that tend toward what Habermas described as the colonization of the lifeworld, a phenomenological analysis suggests the durability of the here-and-now and collective synchronic times. These analyses unveil a research agenda that deconstructs the high-modern 'past' versus 'present' binary in favor of a model that analyzes the interplay of multiple social forms, and thus encourages a retheorization of modernity as 'recomposition' encompassing multiple temporalities.

The Number of the South African War (1899-1902) Concentration Camp Dead: Standard Stories, Superior Stories and a Forgotten Proto-Nationalist Research Investigation

Liz Stanley and Helen Dampier
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 13

Keywords: Concentration Camps, South African War, Proto-Nationalism, Research Methodology, Stories, Historical Sociology, Archival Research, Charles Tilly
Abstract: Tilly extols the power and compass of 'superior stories' compared with 'standard stories'; however, in life things are not always so clear cut. A 1906 1914 research investigation headed by P. L. A. Goldman, initially concerned with the enumeration and commemoration of the deaths of Boer combatants during the South African War (1899-1902), later with the deaths of people in the concentration camps established in the commando phase of this war, is explored in detail using its archived documents. Now largely forgotten, the investigation was part of a commemorative project which sought to replace competing stories about wartime events with one superior version, as seen from a proto-nationalist viewpoint and harnessed to the wider purpose of nation-building. Goldman, the official in charge, responded to a range of methodological and practical difficulties in dealing with a huge amount of data received from a wide variety of sources, and made ad hoc as well as in principle decisions regarding how to handle these, and eventually producing 'the number' as politically and organisationally required. However, another number of the South African War concentration camp dead - one which was both different and also added up incorrectly - concurrently appeared on a national women's memorial, the Vrouemonument, and it is this which has resounded subsequently. The reasons are traced to the character of stories and their power, and the visibility of stories about the concentration camp deaths in question the face of the Vrouemonument and their anonymity in Goldman's production of 'the number'. Tilly's idea of an 'in-between' approach to stories is drawn on in exploring this.

Developing Email Interview Practices in Qualitative Research

Edgar Burns
Sociological Research Online 15 (4) 8

Keywords: Email Interview; Email Research; Interview Methodology; Mixed Method
Abstract: This article describes using email as a kind of interview. In a sociological study of professional career transition into law, on several occasions in that study, interview participants suggested using emails rather than face-to-face interviews. This 'irregularity' set off reflection whether email interviews counted as 'proper' interviews. Discussing examples of email interviews clarifies differences from other uses of email in research, and assists exploration of advantages and disadvantages of email interviews as a qualitative research method. A preliminary framework is suggested for evaluation the suitability of email interviews. Present-day limitations point to continuing development in this area of social research. Current indications are that emergent media technologies such as email interviews, like other new media innovations, do not diminish older forms, but rather enrich the array of investigatory tools available for social research today.

Reflections on Doing Research Grounded in My Experience of Perinatal Loss: From Auto/biography to Autoethnography

Deborah Davidson
Sociological Research Online 16 (1) 6

Keywords: Qualitative Research; Feminist Research; Perinatal Loss and Grief; Bereavement; Experience; Auto/biography; Autoethnography
Abstract: This article, derived from my doctoral dissertation (Davidson 2007) examining the emergence of hospital protocols for perinatal bereavement during the last half of the twentieth century in Canada, focuses on the methodological complexities – the draw, the drain, and the delight of doing qualitative research grounded in my own experience of perinatal loss. With my dissertation now a fait a complete, reflecting back on my research, my use of autoethnography at this point allows a return to a story that has already happened and involves ''the construction and reconstruction' of my personal 2 experiences as narratives' (Autrey 2003: 10). Taking this narrative turn, my enquiry here shifts auto/biography to autoethnography as a mode of enquiry.

The Modality of the Textual Institutionalisation of Literary Studies: Towards a Sociology of Literature

Soh-young Chung
Sociological Research Online 16 (3) 3

Keywords: Sociology of Literature, Sociology of Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology of Knowledge, Foucault, Discursive Formation, Social Activity Method, Disciplinarity, Institutionalisation, Research Methodology
Abstract: This paper aims to present a sociology of literary studies that is distinguished from the sociology of literature in that its focus is on literary studies as a social practice rather than as a socio-cultural institution: how literary studies is institutionalized as such not how it functions in relation to literature. The sociological analysis of literary studies in this paper entails two tasks. Firstly, it constructs a methodological frame within which literary studies can be observed and analysed in terms of the rules of discursive formation rather than as a pre-discursive entity. This is achieved through conceptualizing the Foucauldian notion of discursive formation and knowledge practice as an analytic strategy and operationalising it via Paul Dowling's Social Activity Method. Empirically, the analysis produces a description of the practice of literary studies as instantiated in the particular region of the practice constituted with what I refer to as the crisis discourse. The analysis describes literary studies as that which is emergent upon differing institutionalising strategies articulated by its participants to mark out literary studies from other practices and to maintain its disciplinarity through regulating the distribution and the access of the distribution of the discourse within and beyond the practice. The generalisability of the research in this paper lies in the applicability of the analytical method that can be employed at any given level of analysis to examine discursive practice—such as literary studies—as the effects of the particular discourses in terms of how they articulate and sustain the institutionalised identity of the practice.

A Video Testimony on Rural Poverty and Social Exclusion

Eldin Fahmy and Simon Pemberton
Sociological Research Online 17 (1) 2

Keywords: Video Research; Visual Methods; Rural Poverty; Social Exclusion
Abstract: In this paper, we seek to illustrate the potential theoretical and methodological contributions that video research methods can make in advancing social-scientific understanding and informing public debates on social problems. We do so by presenting findings on the experience and impacts of poverty and exclusion based upon the video 'testimony' with 33 people experiencing low income in one relatively remote rural area, the County of Herefordshire. Based on these data and subsequent follow-up qualitative work, this study highlights the personal impacts of disadvantage associated with a denial of rights, assault on dignity, and processes of stigmatisation and disempowerment. In doing so it demonstrates the potential of video data both as an emerging social research practice in its own right and as a vehicle for giving voice to marginalised groups within wider public debates and policy development.

Video and a Sense of the Invisible: Approaching Domestic Energy Consumption Through the Sensory Home

Sarah Pink and Kerstin Leder Mackley
Sociological Research Online 17 (1) 3

Keywords: Sensory Ethnography, Place, Ecology of Home, Methodology, Qualitative Research, Energy Consumption, Invisibility, Video
Abstract: This article proposes and demonstrates an approach to understanding everyday life that takes as its starting point the sensory aesthetics of place. In doing so it advances a video-ethnography approach to studying 'invisible' elements of everyday domestic life through the prism of the sensory home. Our concern is chiefly methodological: first, we take a biography of method approach to explain and identify the status of the research knowledge this approach can produce; second, we outline how the video tour as a multisensorial and collaborative research encounter can open up understandings of home as place-event; finally, we probe the status of video as ethnographic description by inviting the reader/viewer to access ways of knowing as they are inscribed in embedded clips, in relation to our written argument. To demonstrate this we discuss and embed clips from a pilot video tour developed as part of an interdisciplinary research project, seeking to understand domestic energy consumption as entangled in everyday practices, experiences and creativities.

Capturing Christmas: The Sensory Potential of Data from Participant Produced Video

Stewart Muir and Jennifer Mason
Sociological Research Online 17 (1) 5

Keywords: Visual Methods, Audio-Visual Media, Digital Video, Family, Tradition, Christmas
Abstract: In this paper, we discuss our use of participant-produced digital footage of family Christmases, collected as part of a larger project exploring family backgrounds and family traditions. The audio-visual recording (and subsequent dissemination) of these otherwise difficult-to-access domestic celebrations provides important insights into the multi-dimensional, multisensory, physical and situational nature of such family traditions. With their blend of genre styles - from narrated documentary to home-movie style wobbly camera work - the 'Christmas videos' show both conscious 'displays' of family life and practice (performed for the camera, for the participants and for posterity) and largely unscripted, and sometimes noisily chaotic, interactions. Although videos cannot provide unmediated access into what such traditions are 'really like', in combination with our other data sources the footage has helped to push our thinking about family traditions as being at once intellectualised productions and a series of bodily engagements with a host of practices, understandings, knowledges, family histories, things and people. This form of 'backstage' analytical usage of the video data has been very productive for us. However, we argue that there are ethical issues in publicly presenting such data alongside other forms of data, eg interview data, in a deep sociological analysis of people's personal lives. There is the potential not only for the production of incisive knowledge and insight, but also for a prying and distinctively sociological intrusiveness, and sociologists need to think carefully about how to proceed.

A Tale of Two Analyses: The Use of Archived Qualitative Data

Jo Haynes and Demelza Jones
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 1

Keywords: Secondary Analysis; Research Methodology; Class; British Migration; Bourdieu
Abstract: This article provides a unique contribution to the debates about archived qualitative data by drawing on two uses of the same data - British Migrants in Spain: the Extent and Nature of Social Integration, 2003-2005 - by Jones (2009 ) and Oliver and O'Reilly (2010), both of which utilise Bourdieu's concepts analytically and produce broadly similar findings. We argue that whilst the insights and experiences of those researchers directly involved in data collection are important resources for developing contextual knowledge used in data analysis, other kinds of critical distance can also facilitate credible data use. We therefore challenge the assumption that the idiosyncratic relationship between context, reflexivity and interpretation limits the future use of data. Moreover, regardless of the complex genealogy of the data itself, given the number of contingencies shaping the qualitative research process and thus the potential for partial or inaccurate interpretation, contextual familiarity need not be privileged over other aspects of qualitative praxis such as sustained theoretical insight, sociological imagination and methodological rigour.

Picturing Work in an Industrial Landscape: Visualising Labour, Place and Space

Tim Strangleman
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 20

Keywords: Labour Geography; Visual Sociology; Sociology of Work; Representation of Work, Place and Space
Abstract: This paper explores the notion of the visual landscape of work. Coming from a sociological perspective it attempts to view work, its meanings and the identities that surround it, through the lens of landscape. It takes on recent challenges to work sociology made by economic/labour geographers who argue that sociological understanding of employment are insufficiently spatial - space if used as a concept at all is reduced to the notion of a boundary containing economic processes rather than something that is constructed and in turn constructs work. Using material from ongoing research into the former Guinness Brewery at Park Royal in West London, and in particular a range of archival and contemporary visual sources, this paper illustrates the ways in which spatial ideas underpin complex sociological notions of work practice and culture. It will examine the way space is implicated in the location, construction, labour, and closing of this once famous brewery and how visual material helps to unlock theoretical and methodological understandings of work and industry.

Qualitative Secondary Analysis and Social Explanation

Sarah Irwin and Mandy Winterton
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 4

Keywords: Qualitative Research Methods, Secondary Analysis, Re-Use, Gender, Time Pressure
Abstract: The current paper takes as a focus some issues relating to the possibility for, and effective conduct of, qualitative secondary data analysis. We consider some challenges for the re-use of qualitative research data, relating to researcher distance from the production of primary data, and related constraints on knowledge of the proximate contexts of data production. With others we argue that distance and partial knowledge of proximate contexts may constrain secondary analysis but that its success is contingent on its objectives. So long as data analysis is fit for purpose then secondary analysis is no poor relation to primary analysis. We argue that a set of middle range issues has been relatively neglected in debates about secondary analysis, and that there is much that can be gained from more critical reflection on how salient contexts are conceptualised, and how they are accessed, and assumed, within methodologies and extant data sets. We also argue for more critical reflection on how effective knowledge claims are built. We develop these arguments through a consideration of ESRC Timescapes qualitative data sets with reference to an illustrative analysis of gender, time pressure and work/family commitments. We work across disparate data sets and consider strategies for translating evidence, and engendering meaningful analytic conversation, between them.

Practice 'in Talk' and Talk 'as Practice': Dish Washing and the Reach of Language

Lydia Martens
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 22

Keywords: Practice Theory, Methodology, Qualitative Interviewing, Dish Washing, Teleo-Affective Priorities, Human-To-Human Interaction, Activity  
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to open up debate about the methodological implications of adopting practice theory in social research. Practice theory has become a much used analytical framework for researchers working on the question 'what we do' in relation to a diverse set of contemporary concerns, but discussion on the epistemological implications has thus far been limited. By looking at interview talk on dish washing through a practice-theoretical lens grounded in Schatzki's (1996, 2002) ontology of practices, I set out to examine how language and talk form a resource and an obstruction when we want to think about mundane practices in scholarly ways. My concern is located within the broader questioning of qualitative interviews in debate in the social sciences. Acknowledging that interviews are 'distinctive forms of social action' (Atkinson & Coffey 2003), I move on to consider how talk about washing up in interviews conveys the interaction between two practices; those of talking as the salient embodied practice wielded by human beings in interaction with each other, and dish washing as an integrated cleaning practice common in domestic kitchens. The analysis suggests that our qualitative interviews stimulated talk on the teleo-affective qualities of dish-washing. Rules and principles also appeared in the talk in specific ways. However, the talk was not so good for gaining understanding of the activity of dish washing. In conclusion, I argue that the standard qualitative interview brings out the human-to-human interactional concerns of practices, but that different research contexts need to be developed and employed for gaining greater understanding of the performance (or activity) of the practice of dish washing.

Power, Participation and Privilege - Methodological Lessons from Using Visual Methods in Research with Young People

Alexandra Allan
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 8

Keywords: Participation, Power, Young People, Privilege, Social Class, Qualitative Research, Visual Methods
Abstract: The practice of using participatory visual methods in research with young people is one that has come under scrutiny in recent years. Many scholars have examined these practices in order to question the singular and simple notions of voice that are often represented in these accounts. Taking up the challenges laid down by these scholars, this paper attempts to critically disturb some of the claims that have been made about this supposedly inherently collaborative and empowering practice. Drawing on research with a group of privileged young people the paper will argue that there is a real need for researchers to examine the ways in which different subjectivities are performatively produced in the participatory research process - to explore the ways in which the methods themselves may work to constitute difference and to position young people as powerful or powerless in this process. A call is also made for researchers to inspect their own practice and use of visual methods, in order to recognise the particular knowledges, subjectivities and truths that are constituted as a result.

Ways of Seeing, Ways of Being and Ways of Knowing in the Inner-City: Exploring Sense of Place Through Visual Tours

Magali Peyrefitte
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 11

Keywords: Sense of Place; Narratives; Visual Tours; Walking; Photographs
Abstract: This paper presents an innovative insight into the complexities of the ways in which sense of place can be expressed and experienced. It particularly focuses on the phenomenological rapport participants have to the physicality of place and how it impacts on their ways of being, ways of seeing and on the construction of a sense of place (ways of knowing). In doing so it makes a case for conducting visual tours. Here I present the methodological framework that structured this approach and I give examples of how it can work. The narrative of this paper is constructed around three accounts of three different visual tours that were conducted in inner-city Nottingham. I argue that visual tours result in the combination of four types of intersecting narratives that give extra dimensions to the process of exploring ways of seeing and ways of being in the city: 1. the narrative of walking, 2. the visual narrative, 3. the narrative of the conversation in-situ 4. and finally the narrative of the written account by the researcher. All of these narratives are constitutive and constructive of a sense of place. In the case of my research on British Asian suburbanisation in Nottingham, these intersecting narratives brought to light a series of points on ways of seeing and ways of being and overall on ways of knowing the city. It highlighted a sense of place constructed around paradoxes, dichotomies and overall contrasted visions of the inner city where participants used to live and the suburbs of desirable housing where they now live. These kinds of observations are essential in understanding the way mobility and movements operate in the 'multicultural city'.

Views of the Neighbourhood: A Photo-Elicitation Study of the Built Environment

Victoria D. Alexander
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 10

Keywords: Photo-Elicitation, Visual Methods, Photography, Built Environment, Neighbourhood, Place, Vulnerability, Signal Disorder, Imagined Community.  
Abstract: Drawing on a participant-centred, photo-elicitation study of the built environment in three neighbourhoods, I discuss how people see their neighbourhoods, both in the visual and aesthetic sense, and also how they view (metaphorically) their local surroundings. Participants took part in photo-elicitation interviews and, previously, in standard (verbal-only) semi-structured interviews. Results suggest that people care about their neighbourhoods and value local amenities, attractive houses, public art, and trees, greenery and open spaces. They are concerned about such mundane issues as litter and poorly kept properties, which they find unattractive. Pictures of narrow alleyways and deserted areas were prevalent in connection with fear and vulnerability. I suggest that as participants construct their views of the built environment, they situate their actual neighbourhoods against idealised 'imagined' neighbourhoods, and both the actual surroundings and the idealised construction play into their views of their own place. In addition, it is clear that when participants are asked to take photographs of their neighbourhoods, they think visually. Consequently, participants enact their responses differently in visual research than they do in verbal-only research.

The Application of Abductive and Retroductive Inference for the Design and Analysis of Theory-Driven Sociological Research

Samantha B. Meyer and Belinda Lunnay
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 12

Keywords: Theory-Driven Research; Qualitative Analysis; Qualitative Research; Sociology; Theory Development; Critical Realism
Abstract: Abductive and retroductive inference are innovative tools of analysis which enable researchers to refine and redevelop social theory. This paper describes and demonstrates how to apply these tools to strengthen sociological theory-driven empirical research outputs. To illustrate how abductive and retroductive inference work for the benefit of enhanced qualitative analysis we present the findings of a qualitative study that investigated heart disease patients' trust in medical professionals (n=37). We outline the research process using a six-stage model developed by Danermark et al. (1997) that will guide researchers doing exploratory research in how to use abductive and retroductive inference in qualitative research design and analysis. A snapshot of the study findings are provided for illustration purposes. The reader will learn how the application of these under-utilized methodological tools provides a novel way of analyzing sociological research.

Stillbirth and Loss: Family Practices and Display

Samantha Murphy and Hilary Thomas
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 16

Keywords: Stillbirth, Identity, Qualitative Research, Parenting
Abstract: This paper explores how parents respond to their memories of their stillborn child over the years following their loss. When people die after living for several years or more, their family and friends have the residual traces of a life lived as a basis for an identity that may be remembered over a sustained period of time. For the parent of a stillborn child there is no such basis and the claim for a continuing social identity for their son or daughter is precarious. Drawing on interviews with the parents of 22 stillborn children, this paper explores the identity work performed by parents concerned to create a lasting and meaningful identity for their child and to include him or her in their families after death. The paper draws on Finch's (2007) concept of family display and Walter's (1999) thesis that links continue to exist between the living and the dead over a continued period. The paper argues that evidence from the experience of stillbirth suggests that there is scope for development for both theoretical frameworks.

'We Are Watching You Too': Reflections on Doing Visual Research in a Contested City

Milena Komarova and Martina McKnight
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 19

Keywords: Visual Methods, Place-Making, Contested Space, Conflict Management
Abstract: This article focuses on our observations of two contentious Orange Order parades and nationalist protests that took place in an interface area in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in June 2011 and 2012. We apply a perspective of visual ethnography as place-making (Pink 2009) to our research experience in order to add to understandings of how a place of conflict is experienced, (re)produced or challenged through the use of photography and video by marchers, protesters and researchers alike. In doing so, we discuss not only the strengths of visual methods, (how they enable a greater understanding of adversarial perspectives, allow researchers to experience contestation emotionally and compel reflexivity), but also more controversial aspects of their use (the extent to which they limit what researchers notice or omit and legitimate particular versions of conflict). Last, but not least, we suggest that the ubiquitous use of ‘the digital eye’ in the contentious events we observed has a democratising influence over elements in the performance of conflict: challenging the presumed roles of performers and audiences; of researchers and researched; opening contentious events to a wider audience and facilitating the communication of competing narratives.

Ideology in Disguise: Place Name Metonyms and the Discourse of Newspaper Headlines

Jenny Lewin-Jones and Mike Webb
Sociological Research Online 18 (4) 18

Keywords: Metonyms; Metaphor; Place Names; Media; Headlines; Language; Discourse; Ideology; Nationalism
Abstract: 'Place metonyms' are figures of speech which use place names as shortcuts, for example Whitehall to mean the British civil service, or Europe for the institutions of the European Union. The paper examines place metonyms in the headlines of two British newspapers, the Sun and the Guardian. Using evidence from a 12-month period in 2011-12, a headline-by-headline linguistic analysis is used to work out the denotations and wider connotations of each metonym. This critical discourse approach suggests that such place metonyms in headlines have three problematic effects: firstly they may conceal agency and responsibility within some public bodies, secondly for some social institutions, they give an exaggerated impression of unity and homogeneity, and finally for a further list of institutions, they offer relentless pejorative evaluative colouring. These effects are found not only in the right-of-centre Sun but also to some extent in the more progressive newspaper, the Guardian. The authors speculate that it may be difficult for readers of newspapers to think critically about place metonyms in headlines. In particular, place metonyms may subtly reinforce any impression that public institutions are fixed entities, not susceptible to challenge, and may facilitate the polarised value-judgments that are characteristic of 'headlinese'. Such social constructions support some of the central tenets of neo-liberal, capitalist ideology, and so subtly add to the news media’s distorting representations of public matters.

Researching the Intangible: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of the Everyday Practices of Belonging

Julia Bennett
Sociological Research Online 19 (1) 10

Keywords: Belonging, Phenomenology, Photo-Elicitation;, Visual Methods, Diaries, Place
Abstract: How can the intangible aspects of everyday life be uncovered? A phenomenological approach has its origins in the everyday but also allows everything to be questioned. In studying belonging a phenomenological approach supported by a variety of qualitative methods produced a wealth of ‘insider’ information that could have been missed using more traditional methods. The research was based around multi-generational family groups as a family narrative focuses on relations between different family members over the generations rather than on an individual biography. Biographical interviews in family groups allowed families to talk about their lives together. Diaries put the direction of the research in the hands of the participants thus reversing, to some extent, the traditional power relations between researcher and researched. Through written and photo diaries participants shared details of their daily lives which might have been more difficult to elicit in a formal interview situation. The photos allowed the researcher to ‘visit’ places which are a part of the daily life of participants in a subtle and non-intrusive manner. These research approaches privilege the voices of the participants in research into their lives. Through demonstrating the richness of the data collected this article argues that such approaches could be used more widely.

Qualitative Upward Mobility, the Mass-Media and 'Posh' Masculinity in Contemporary North-East Britain: A Micro Sociological Case-Study

Andreas Giazitzoglu
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 12

Keywords: Class; Masculinity; Mass-Media; Social Mobility/alternative Approach to Mobility Analysis; Qualitative Research
Abstract: Qualitative upward mobility, the mass-media and ‘middleclass’ masculinity: a micro sociological case-study. Abstract The Changers are seven British men who have experienced upward mobility in their lives. A vast body of quantitative insights into upward mobility exist. Yet the qualitative, experiential dimensions of upward mobility are understudied; especially in relation to the lives of upwardly mobile males. This article presents an empirically rigours corrective that qualitatively outlines the Changers’ upwardly mobile existences and views. In particular, this article examines how sections of the mass-media have produced a didactic notion of ‘middleclass’ masculinity which the Changers feel compelled to replicate in their everyday lives, largely via the men consuming specific, expensive commodities. Attention is drawn to the anxieties which the Changers endure because of their social mobility and associated attempts to qualitatively appear ‘middleclass’.

Talking Ties: Reflecting on Network Visualisation and Qualitative Interviewing

Louise Ryan, Jon Mulholland and Agnes Agoston
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 16

Keywords: Qualitative Research, Social Networks, Visualisation Tools, Highly Skilled Migrants, Interview Dynamics, Social Ties
Abstract: This paper uses a reflexive approach to consider the opportunities and challenges of using a visualisation tool in qualitative research on social networks. Although widely used to map social networks over many decades, particularly in health studies and psychology, network visualisation tools are less common in qualitative sociological research. While recent trends in Social Network Analysis (SNA) have tended to concentrate within the quantitative domain, our paper is influenced by the ‘cultural turn’ in network research, and aims to respond to calls for more exploration of how social ties are constructed and represented in qualitative research. Having used a target sociogram to visualise the networks of highly skilled migrants, we reflect critically on how this tool, far from being a neutral data collective device, influences how networks were described, explained, and perceived by participants. Focusing on the dynamics within the interview encounter, especially in the context of ‘researching up’, we explore participant reactions, what we learned and might do differently, next time. We conclude that, despite certain limitations, the sociogram helped mitigate the abstract nature of some topics by connecting them to specific groups of people drawn on the diagram. The tool not only enhanced participants’ reflection process but allowed certain topics to emerge which might have not otherwise surfaced, hence greatly contributing to the collection of rich data. Nonetheless, as we discuss, there are also ethical issues associated with its use.

The Politics of Health Services Research: Health Professionals as Hired Hands in a Commissioned Research Project in England

Simon Dyson and Sue Dyson
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 14

Keywords: Evidence-Based Research, Health Services Research, Hired Hands, Midwives, Research Methodology, Work and Employment
Abstract: Previous health services research has failed to account for the role played by clinical staff in the collection of data. In this paper we use the work of Roth on hired hand research to examine the politics of evidence production within health services research. Sociologies of work predict lack of engagement in the research tasks by subordinated groups of workers. We examine the role of midwives in researching ante-natal screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia in England, and construct three ideal types: repairers, refractors, and resisters to account for the variable engagement of health staff with research. We find some features of the hired hand phenomenon predicted by Roth to be in evidence, and suggest that the context of our project is similar to much health services research. We conclude that without concerted attempts (1) to change the social relations of research production; (2) to mitigate hired hand effects; (3) to assess the impact of the hired hand effect on the validity and reliability of findings, and (4) to report on these limitations, that health services research involving large teams of subordinated clinical staff as data collectors will be prone to produce evidence that is of limited trustworthiness.

‘Ghettos of the Mind’: Realities and Myths in the Construction of the Social Identity of a Dublin Suburb

Martina Byrne and Brid Ni Chonaill
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 17

Keywords: ‘race’, Ethnicity, Class, Place, Immigration, Ireland, Nation, Identity, Ghetto
Abstract: The Republic of Ireland became a country of net immigration for the first time in 1996 and a large body of literature has since examined, at macro and meso levels, migration rates and flows, impacts on the economy, and issues around integration. However, there is a paucity of sociological literature on the effect of unprecedented immigration at local or community level. This article addresses this deficit by demonstrating how the social identity of a place, home to a particularly high proportion of immigrants over the past two decades, is differentially constructed in the perceptions of those situated within, and outside. We combine data sets from two qualitative studies of Irish people living inside and outside the north Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown firstly to underpin our argument that place identities are processes which can change in a relatively short time and that some place identities are more mythical than real. Secondly, we problematise the term ‘ghetto’, as employed by some participants in this study and argue that racial, ethnic and class positionality is implicated in the construction of the relational identities of the place. Our findings contrast residents’ awareness of the heterogeneity of their area with outsiders’ construction of a homogenous raced and classed identity for the place, namely, one where large numbers of lower class and black immigrants live.

A Methodological Intervention in Cosmopolitanism Research: Cosmopolitan Dispositions Amongst Digital Natives

Johan Lindell and Yuwei Lin
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 19

Keywords: Cosmopolitan Disposition, Cosmopolitanism Studies, Methodology, Principal Component Analysis, Survey Research, Digital Natives
Abstract: The concept cosmopolitanism has the potential of becoming one of the most interesting social scientific tools for understanding contemporary social life. Operationalising it however, has proved a difficult task. Here, researchers utilise different single indicators while making claims towards the same theoretical concept. This not only undermines the theoretical complexity immanent in the term cosmopolitanism, but also creates a false intersubjectivity in the field of cosmopolitanism studies. In order to ‘save’ cosmopolitanism from the risk of becoming an ‘empty signifier’ (Skrbis et al. 2004) or a ‘‘free-floating’ discursive geist’ (Holton 2009), in an attempt to address the ‘muddy’ (Calhoun 2008) nature of the concept, this paper presents a methodological blueprint that locates the process of definition in the intersection of the theoretical and the empirical. As such, the proposed methodological way of conduct starts on the conceptual level in order to define the central theoretical tenets included in the cosmopolitan disposition. It then operationalises these claims into indicators that are included in an exploratory analysis of the data set. In conducting a minor quantitative study on ‘digital natives’ in Sweden the method is illustrated as being able to discern manifestations of ‘actually existing cosmopolitanisms’ (Malcomson 1998) and thus avoid the risk of reductionism involved with the use of one-dimensional indicators or pre-existing, less-than-adequate variables in secondary data.

An Alternative Ethics? Justice and Care as Guiding Principles for Qualitative Research

Martyn Hammersley and Anna Traianou
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 24

Keywords: Research Ethics, Qualitative Research, Justice, Care, Participatory Inquiry
Abstract: The dominant conception of social research ethics is centred on deontological and consequentialist principles. In place of this, some qualitative researchers have proposed a very different approach. This appeals to a range of commitments that transform the goal of research as well as framing how it is pursued. This new ethics demands a participatory form of inquiry, one in which the relationship between researchers and researched is equalized. In this paper we examine this alternative approach, focusing in particular on two of the principles that are central to it: justice and care. We argue that there are some significant defects and dangers associated with this new conception of research ethics.

Stigmatising the Poor Without Negative Images: Images of Extreme Poverty and the Formation of Welfare Attitudes

Béla Janky, Boglarka Bakó, Péter Szilágyi and Adrienn Bognár
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 4

Keywords: Media Portrayal of the Poor, Stigmatisation of the Poor, Video-Vignette, Welfare Attitudes, Ethnic Cues, Roma
Abstract: In the past two decades, many studies have warned of the role the popular media might play in the stigmatisation of the poor. Media reports about poverty often include references to antisocial behaviour, which make the principle of deservingness particularly conspicuous and could also strengthen the effects of ethnic stereotypes. We argue, however, that it could be misleading to place all the blame for stigmatisation on direct references to ‘undeserving’ behaviour. Media images of extreme distress themselves could have a selective stigmatising effect. Thus, even benevolent portrayal of the poor could erode sympathy. This paper presents the results of a video-vignette experiment on a sample of Hungarian students. The subjects watched one of four versions of a video interview with a poor person (none of them contained any references to antisocial behaviour) and then expressed their attitudes towards welfare payments. We found that support for welfare was higher where a version highlighted signs of extreme distress. But this was only the case if there were no mention of ethnic minorities. If the video report emphasized that Roma (Gypsies), the largest disadvantaged minority group in Hungary, lived in the neighbourhood, signs of their extreme hardship lowered the support for welfare payments.

Synthetic Sociology and the ‘long Workshop’: How Mass Observation Ruined Meta-Methodology

Rachel Hurdley
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 6

Keywords: Mass Observation, Materiality, Methodology, Ethics, Narrative, Lists, Literariness, Poetics, Space
Abstract: The paper focuses on the relations between Mass Observation Reports, and the contemporary sociological valuing of articulacy, salience and coherence in participants' accounts. This is linked with a critique of sociological literariness, to question how participants’ words are transformed into ‘data’ for research productions. The aims are threefold. First, to show how research participants’ contributions have valuable attributes that do not always fit neatly into conventional analytic frame. Second, to highlight how ‘awkward’ data challenge the literary conventions of sociological production. Third, to illustrate how critical reflection on a particular form of vernacular poetry can inform the poetics and politics of sociological methodology. By addressing Mass Observation’s inconvenient materiality, its peculiar temporality and its diverse content, the paper considers how these unsettle the notion of ‘data’. Critically engaging with Charles Madge’s and Humphrey Jennings’ notion of Mass Observation as ‘Popular Poetry’, I then consider how Whitman’s vernacular epic, Leaves of Grass, has been woven into the cultural biography of the U.S. By drawing an analogy between Mass Observation’s ‘Popular Poetry’ and Whitman’s democratic poetics, I ask how a legitimised/legitimising research habitus can change in interaction with such materials, rather than resynthesising itself. Moving on to an ethically difficult film-making project with asylum seekers I argue for methodological architectures that open up plural, precarious, untimely ‘anthropologies of ourselves’. A politics of knowledge-making, that acknowledges the ‘long workshops’ where social worlds are crafted, can then materialise.

Shared Ownership and Mutual Imaginaries: Researching Research in Mass Observation

Annebella Pollen
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 9

Keywords: Mass Observation, Research, Method, Methodology, Intersubjectivity
Abstract: The methodologies that might be best used to interpret Mass Observation’s distinctive research resources have tended to be considered on a case by case basis by individual researchers and have rarely been the subject of concerted, dedicated scrutiny. During 2009-10, however, the University of Brighton research network Methodological Innovations: Using Mass Observation (MIMO) brought together 150 international academics, archivists, writers and artists to debate and share methods for analysing the materials of the post-1981 Mass Observation Project (MOP) in particular. Through discussion lists and events, a range of disciplinary approaches were brought to bear on core topics of methodological concern, from the ‘representativeness’ of the writing panel and discussions about sampling and extrapolation, through to debates on the very nature of Mass Observation (MO) material and how it might be defined. This paper draws on these productive discussions and brings them together with previously unanalysed insights and reflections on similar issues by MOP correspondents, for as Sheridan, Street and Bloome (2000) have argued, ‘Mass-Observers themselves are as reflective and thoughtful about issues raised, methodological and theoretical as well as ethical and political, as the academic commentators.’ Using responses to the MOP directive, ‘Being Part of Research’ in parallel with MIMO discussions, this paper draws new connections between contributors and users, as two of the core constituent bodies involved in the production of meaning in MO. Through comparative analysis of each groups’ discussion of methodology, this paper highlights the often unarticulated but ultimately interdependent relationship between contributors and their readers in order to reveal their shared understandings, mirrored concerns and mutual imaginaries.

Ethics and Emotions: A Migrant Researcher Doing Research Among Romanian Migrants

Oana Romocea
Sociological Research Online 19 (4) 16

Keywords: Qualitative Research, Emotions, Ethics, Migration, Romania
Abstract: This article explores both the ethical and emotional issues that emerge while conducting qualitative research as a Romanian migrant researcher among Romanian migrants settled in the UK. I specifically look at the transformative role played by emotions in the research process and how knowledge is generated by a permanent state of ‘objective reflexivity’ employed by the researcher and self-reflexivity on the part of the participants. While most emotions and ethical considerations transpire mainly from the interaction and the relationship established between the researcher and the participants, I highlight other aspects of fieldwork which also carry ethical decisions and emotional implications, even though not so evident at first sight. These include the relation between the researcher and the topic of the research, the terminology used, the location of the interview, the language choice during the interview, and any potential legal aspects. I conclude that juggling both ethics and emotions does not compromise the scientific standard of the research, but rather adds a new dimension to doing research in one’s own social context.

The Reframing of Methodology: Revisiting a PhD Study

Sarah Dubberley
Sociological Research Online 19 (4) 5

Keywords: PhD, Methodology, Qualitative, Post Postivism, Critical Realism
Abstract: The paper draws on a PhD study to explore some methodological dilemmas associated with the execution of qualitative research when framed within positivist study design. The PhD was linked to an externally funded research project which evaluated the implementation of a custody-based intervention in the secure estate. While the PhD was conceived as a qualitative study, informed by interpretivist methodology and associated epistemology, the wider funded study was informed by positivist tradition and used a quantitative method. This led to dilemmas of both practical and methodological nature. The author revisits her study’s methodological position to review issues raised by the research design and suggests an alternative proposal informed methodologically by critical realism which may better serve the study’s interests. In doing so, the paper suggests how revisiting previous research may assist us in gaining methodological understanding and allow us to reframe our future endeavours to more useful end.

Everyday Belonging and Ageing: Place and Generational Change

Vanessa May and Stewart Muir
Sociological Research Online 20 (1) 8

Keywords: Belonging, Ageing, Place, Generation
Abstract: In this paper, we discuss findings from a study on intergenerational relationalities in order to examine some aspects of how people over 50 years of age experience belonging in their everyday lives. Belonging emerged not as a single unitary ‘thing’, but a complex intersecting of relational, cultural and sensory experiences. We explore how people, place, time and cultural context intertwined in people’s sense of belonging to place. Although much previous research on belonging has largely focused on geographical movement, we found that temporal movement, at an individual level in the form of ageing and at a collective level in terms of generational change, proved to be an important layer of our participants’ experiences of belonging and not belonging. Furthermore, we argue that people often come to understand and speak of temporal shifts in belonging in embodied terms, based on their sensory engagement with the world. The paper concludes by considering the consequences of this additional aspect of the experience of belonging for the study of belonging as a social and personal process, and how our findings contribute to debates around ‘ageing well’.

Driven to Distraction: Turkish Diaspora Football Supporters, New Media and the Politics of Place-Making

John McManus
Sociological Research Online 20 (2) 12

Keywords: New Media, Football, Diaspora, Internet, Place, Virtual
Abstract: This article explores how new media forms linked to the internet are feeding into the generation of community. It looks specifically at the place-making practices of a transnational group of football fans, European supporters of the Turkish club team Beşiktaş. I trace the mediations of two common football fan practices: the singing of chants and the display of banners. Adopting a multi-sited ethnographic approach, I track their circulation. While remaining part of the stadium experience, the chant and the banner have a prolonged life as digital objects. Fans combine them with new media practices, using them to expanding the array of places and means by which they can be Beşiktaş fans. The politics of building a transnational fan community is increasingly predicated on mediating between ‘virtual’ and ‘actual’ spaces. Success is measured through an individual’s ability to intervene successfully on both the terrace and the Facebook page. This in turn requires a new form of interaction amongst fans, one based around a sense of distracted tactility. I conclude by suggesting the need to refigure the benchmarks by which we judge the affective relationships of fans. The sociology of sport can be refreshed through paying closer attention to the production of space, the materiality of internet media, and the sensate dimensions of the fan experience.

Dislocation and Uncertainty in East Manchester: The Legacy of the Commonwealth Games

Camilla Lewis
Sociological Research Online 20 (2) 13

Keywords: Commonwealth Games, Urban Regeneration, Community, Legacy, Place, Social Change
Abstract: In 2002, the Commonwealth Games were championed as a win-win solution for Manchester. The sporting event would bring worldwide attention and investment to the city and offer a unique opportunity to kick start social regeneration, transforming the fortunes of some of Manchester’s poorest neighbourhoods.This paper explores experiences of urban change, from the perspective of long-standing residents in the neighbourhoods of Beswick and Openshaw, which lie in East Manchester. Despite promises of legacy, these localities remain dislocated from the rest of the city and the future continues to be defined by uncertainty by the area’s residents. In order to understand some of the tensions and difficulties that arise in projects of urban transformation we need to pay attention to the practical ways in which people make relationships to place (Massey 1995, 2001) which tend to be erased in dominant narratives about ‘legacy’. It argues that we must go beyond drawing simple conclusions of the ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ implications of regeneration processes in order to investigate the social effects of urban change for local populations.

Inside the Research-Assemblage: New Materialism and the Micropolitics of Social Inquiry

Nick J. Fox and Pam Alldred
Sociological Research Online 20 (2) 6

Keywords: Research Methodology, New Materialism, Ontology, Assemblage, Affect, Deleuze and Guattari
Abstract: This paper explores social inquiry in terms of the ‘research-assemblages’ that produce knowledge from events. We use the precepts of new materialism (and specifically DeleuzoGuattarian assemblage ontology) to develop understanding of what happens when social events are researched. From this perspective, research is not at root an enterprise undertaken by human actors, but a machine-like assemblage of things, people, ideas, social collectivities and institutions. During social inquiry, the affect economies of an event-assemblage and a research-assemblage hybridise, generating a third assemblage with its own affective flow. This model of the research-assemblage reveals a micropolitics of social research that suggests a means to interrogate and effectively reverse-engineer different social research methodologies and methods, to analyse what they do, how they work and their micropolitical effects. It also suggests a means to forward-engineer research methods and designs to manipulate the kinds of knowledge produced when events are researched.

The Visual Sociogram in Qualitative and Mixed-Methods Research

Paola Tubaro, Louise Ryan and Alessio D'Angelo
Sociological Research Online 21 (2) 1

Keywords: Social Networks, Mixed Methods, Qualitative Research, Data Visualization, Sociograms, Relational Data
Abstract: The paper investigates the place of visual tools in mixed-methods research on social networks, arguing that they can not only improve the communicability of results, but also support research at the data gathering and analysis stages. Three examples from the authors’ own research experience illustrate how sociograms can be integrated in multiple ways with other analytical tools, both quantitative and qualitative, positioning visualization at the intersection of varied methods and channelling substantive ideas as well as network insight in a coherent way. Visualization also facilitates the participation of a broad range of stakeholders, including among others, study participants and non-specialist researchers. It can support the capacity of qualitative and mixed-methods research to reach out to areas of the social that are difficult to circumscribe, such as hidden populations and informal organisations. On this basis, visualization appears as a unique opportunity for mixing methods in the study of social networks, emphasizing both structure and process at the same time.

From Playing to Programming: The Effect of Video Game Play on Confidence with Computers and an Interest in Computer Science

Rebecca Sevin and Whitney DeCamp
Sociological Research Online 21 (3) 16

Keywords: Sociology, Video Games, Computer Science, Survey, Leisure. 
Abstract: Research on the effects of playing video games has been limited by a preoccupation with possible negative repercussions. Nevertheless, research has shown that video games can have positive effects on young players' social lives. The existing body of research, however, has largely ignored the more computer-related aspects of video game play and its effects. This study provides empirical evidence to support theoretical arguments about the relationship between playing video games and computers. The type of scientific thinking encouraged by video games and the technological abilities needed to play video games is suggested to result in an increase in players’ confidence with computers and interest in computer science. These potential relationships are examined using data from over 1,000 undergraduate students to empirically assess the relationship between video game play and: 1) confidence with computers, and 2) interest in computer science. The results indicate that game play is statistically significant as a predictor of confidence and interest. In comparison to the other predictors in the model, the strength of the effect from playing video games is relatively very strong. The findings suggest that exposure to video games as a recreational technology help inform players' abilities with non-recreational technology and build an interest in technology in general.

Fighting Gentrification in the Neoliberal University: Displacing Communities, Researchers and the Very Possibility of Radical Critique

Mara Ferreri and Luna Glucksberg
Sociological Research Online 21 (3) 4

Keywords: Place; Precarity; Demolitions; Regeneration; Gentrification; Academia
Abstract: The demolition of social housing figures prominently in the most recent wave of state-led gentrification in London: fighting these processes as academics and activists presents ethical, methodological and strategic issues. We have chosen to address these issues by drawing a cautiously symbolic parallel between the conditions faced by social tenants in London, threatened with the destruction of their homes and communities, and the challenges faced by researchers who study and work within these communities, often on part-time, temporary and insecure contracts, themselves under threat of eviction from the very city they research and from academia. Navigating professional precarity and the precarity of place, we stress the need for longitudinal and ethnographic research into the effects of demolition and regeneration, whilst warning against critical urban research becoming more and more the province of tenured middle class scholars.

Negotiating Constructions of Insider and Outsider Status in Research with Veiled Muslim Women Victims of Islamophobic Hate Crime

Irene Zempi
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 8

Keywords: Insider/outsider, Qualitative Research, Critical Reflexivity, Veiled Muslim Women, Islamophobic Hate Crime
Abstract: This article presents a reflexive discussion of insider and outsider positions in a qualitative study researching Islamophobic hate crime with Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil) in public in the United Kingdom (UK). As a non-Muslim woman, some aspects of my identity can be linked to insider positions while other aspects of my identity can be linked to outsider positions, with implications for the documentation of participants’ lived experiences. Within the framework of ‘critical reflexivity’, this article considers the impact of my insider/outsider status at each stage of the research process, from deciding on the research topic, the research design, accessing participants through to data collection and analysis. This article re-articulates the importance of researcher reflexivity, particularly when both researchers and participants exhibit multiculturality (for example, in the context of having multicultural backgrounds), which has become more common in the globalised world. It will be concluded that engaging in critical reflexivity is important for producing reliable and ethical research as it enables researchers to be aware of their position in the ‘space between’ and be transparent how their positionality impacts on the entire research process.

Evoking Imaginaries. Art Probing, Ethnography and More-Than-Academic Practice

Robert Willim
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Art and Ethnography, Cultural Analysis, Applied Research, Imaginaries, Site-Specificity, Place-Making
Abstract: I discuss and argue for combinations of artistic practice and cultural analysis, for meta-disciplinary and serendipitous endeavours that can entangle art and ethnographic research. These combinations can be understood as practices that are more-than-academic. I define the artistic side of this combinatory work as art probing. Art probes have a double function. Firstly, they can instil inspiration and be possible points of departure for research, and secondly, they can be used to communicate scientific concepts and arguments beyond the scope of academic worlds. According to this point of view, artistic and scientific output should be seen as provisional renditions oriented towards different audiences and as part of an extended open-ended art of inquiry. When working with this more-than-academic practice a number of stakeholders are involved, ranging from academic professionals to art institutions, museums and visitors of art exhibitions and performances. I will discuss how I understand ethnography as part of this process and in relation to practices of art probing.