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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.
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.
Sociological Research Online 2 (2) 9
Keywords: Comparative Research; Daily Life; Informal Exchange; Post-Soviet Russia; Social Networks; Soviet Union
Abstract: This article takes the form of a case study of a master's course for health and development professionals working in the field of primary health care. It argues the need for health professionals to critically examine research paradigms and the assumptions that inform them, considering their appropriateness to primary health care, a health strategy based on a recognition of the relationship between inequalities and health status. Conventional training of health professionals does not encourage health workers to reflect critically on their research practice. This can be facilitated through an educational strategy that emphasises issues of inequality as central to health and addresses issues of power and purpose in research activity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sociological Research Online 4 (2) repetti
Keywords: Informal Economy; Senegal; Social Networks; Urban Work; Weak Ties; Work Relations
Abstract: In Dakar, faced with crisis and uncertainty, social answers begin to appear. Only those having a supportive social network could find a place in the labour's market. The observation of the daily routine of any of Dakar's micro-businesses and its social aspects, reveals the wide area of interference that exists between waged worker and the relation networks with family and relatives, ethnic groups and Muslim brotherhoods. The urban economy is supported by a network of family, alliance, and client relations. The overlap existing between waged and unwaged work can be understood only by looking closely at the network of social ties present outside the production site. Switching from the analysis of urban work relationships in Africa to the analysis of social networks is almost spontaneous, because a system of relational actions and strategies grows around the figure of the worker. The importance of the "strength of weak ties" in procuring employment is as a whole confirmed, but African sociability creates an intense inter-network relational interchange. Dakar's urban space feeds a "popular economy" where social networks and the gift-giving logic co-exist with market economy. This economy utilise different wage embryos or tokens salaries for each of the social players.
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.
Sociological Research Online 9 (2) bloch
Keywords: Dispersal.; Employment; Job Seeking; Migration; Minority Ethnic Groups; Refugees; Self-employment; Social Networks; Terms And Conditions Of Employment
Abstract: This paper draws on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and from a survey of 400 refugees in Britain in order to present an up to data comparison of the labour market experiences of minority ethnic groups and refugees. It will show that refugees experience lower rates of employment than their ethnic minority counterparts and that those refugees in employment are more likely to be in temporary and part-time work with poorer terms and conditions of employment and with lower wages. The reasons why refugees experience greater disadvantage in the labour market than others include structural barriers due to policies such as dispersal that can leave refugees isolated from social and community networks that provide information and advice and informal routes into employment but also leave refugees in areas with higher levels of unemployment. Migration patterns are also influential with refugees for the most part arriving more recently in Britain than people from minority ethnic groups. Refugees are also increasingly reliant on agents and smugglers to plan their route and destination and so asylum seekers can find themselves in countries where they have no social networks. Social networks and community organisations play an important role in the early stages of settlement. Finally, the circumstances of exile, attitudes to the country of origin and the insecurity of having temporary status in Britain all prevent economic activity.
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.
Sociological Research Online 10 (3) head
Keywords: Lone Mothers, Home, Social Networks, Isolation
Abstract: Feminist writers have drawn attention to the way in which the home can be a source of oppression for women, by the experience of domestic violence and the unending burdens of domestic labour. In this literature little attention has been paid to the experiences of lone mothers specifically. This paper presents findings from empirical work with self-defined lone mothers living in social housing and in receipt of income support in south-west England. The tensions between the home being experienced in positive terms as a place of refuge or as symbolic of a new stage of life are contrasted with the experiences of home as a place of isolation and generating a sense of captivity. The way lone mothers experience the home can be understood with reference to a number of factors. These include whether the lone mother has insider or outside status in the area, the perception and experience of crime, racism, social networks and the experience of mothering.
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.
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.
Christina Prell Not available for reviewing until Oct 2010
Sociological Research Online 11 (4) prell
Keywords: Social Capital, Social Networks, Measuring Social Capital, Network Capital, Not-For-Profit Relations
Abstract: Social capital's rise in popularity is a phenomenon many have noted (Kadushin, 2006; Warde and Tampubolon, 2002; Portes, 1998). Although the concept is a relatively old one, it is the works of Bourdieu (1986), Coleman (1988; 1990), and Putnam (1993, 2000) that often get credited for popularizing the concept. These three, while sharing a view that social networks are important for social groups and society, they place differing levels of emphasis on the role of networks in building trust or the exchange of various types of resources. In this paper, I briefly revisit these three theorists, and the criticisms each have received, to provide background for discussing recent research on social capital from a social networks approach. The social network approach is then applied to my own case study looking at the relations among not-for-profits, and special attention is given to the unique context of not-for-profits, and how this context might elaborate or challenge current thoughts on social, aka 'network' capital. A final discussion is also given to some measurement problems with the network approach to social capital.
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.
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.
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.
Sara Ferlander and Duncan Timms
Sociological Research Online 12 (5) 8
Keywords: Disadvantaged Area, IT-Café, Local Community, Local Identity, Local Net, Social Capital, Social Networks, Sweden, the Internet, Trust
Abstract: The rapid diffusion of the Internet has considerable potential for enhancing the way people connect with each other, the root of social capital. However, the more the Internet is used for building social capital the greater will the impact be on those whose access and/or usage is curtailed. It is therefore important to investigate the impacts of Internet on groups at risk of digital and social exclusion. The aim of this article is to examine how the use of the Internet influences social capital and community building in a disadvantaged area. Quantitative and qualitative data from a case study in a suburban area of Stockholm are used to evaluate the social impacts of two community-based Internet projects: a Local Net and an IT-Café. Each of the projects was aimed at enhancing digital inclusion and social capital in a disadvantaged local community. The paper examines the extent to which use of the Internet is associated with an enhancement of social participation, social trust and local identity in the area. The Local Net appears to have had limited success in meeting its goals; the IT-Café was more successful. Visitors to the IT-Café had more local friends, expressed less social distrust, perceived less tension between different groups in the area and felt a much stronger sense of local identity than non-visitors. Visitors praised the IT-Café as providing a meeting-place both online and offline. The Internet was used for networking, exchange of support and information seeking. Although it is difficult to establish causal priorities, the evidence suggests that an IT-Café, supporting both virtual and physical meetings, may be especially well suited to build social capital and a sense of local community in a disadvantaged area. The importance of social, rather than solely technological, factors in determining the impact of the Internet on social capital in disadvantaged local communities is stressed.
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.
Yanuar Nugroho and Gindo Tampubolon
Sociological Research Online 13 (5) 3
Keywords: Global Civil Society, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Network Society, Social Networks, Democracy, Reform, Social Movement, Chequebook Activism, Indonesia
Abstract: This paper seeks to make transparent the mutually reinforcing relationships between global civil society, democracy and network society, which are often implicit in extant theories. The concept of a 'global civil society' cannot be separated from the promotion of democracy. Global civil society itself is one of the most explicit instances of the emergence of network society in the modern age and democracy lies at the very heart of what constitutes a network society. However, very little has been said about how these apparent mutually reinforcing relationships arise. Focusing on the case of Indonesia during the fraught regime change from authoritarianism to democracy, we investigate the role of transnational and national civil society organisation during the periods of pre-reform, reform and post-reform. Using multi-methods, including social network analysis and interviews with civil society activists and networkers, we discover a less encouraging picture of these relationships and conclude that the forging of this virtuous circle has some obvious gaps. We attempt to account for these apparent gaps in this mutually reinforcing relationship in terms of different modes of political participation. We suggest that some forms of 'chequebook activism' characterised the global civil society role during an abrupt and bloody regime change.
Sociological Research Online 14 (1) 4
Keywords: Environmental Movement, Political Opportunity Structures, Social Movements, Social Networks
Abstract: Political opportunity structures are often used to explain differences in the characteristics of movements in different countries on the basis of the national polity in which they exist. However, the approach has a number of weaknesses that are outlined in this article. The article especially stresses the fact that such broad-brush approaches to political opportunity structures fail to account for the different characteristics of movement organisations within the same polity. The article therefore recommends using a more fine-tuned approach to political opportunities, taking into account that the strategies and status of organisations affect the real political opportunities they face. This fine-tuned approach is used to predict how the status and strategy of environmental organisations might influence the extent to which different types of environmental organisations in the UK network with one-another. We find that organisations that face an open polity - those with a moderate action repertoire and a constructive relationship with government institutions - tend not to cooperate with those with a radical action repertoire and negative relations with government institutions. On the other hand, those that vary their action repertoires, and which have variable status according to the issues involved or campaign targets, have a much broader range of network links with other types of organisations. Thus, there is much more diversity in types of environmental organisation in the UK than the broad-brush to political opportunity structures would account for. Nonetheless, it does seem that environmental organisations are aware of how their own behaviours might influence (non-structural) political opportunities, and that they mould their strategies and networking patterns around this awareness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dave Griffiths and Paul Lambert
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 5
Keywords: Social Interaction; Social Distance; Social Networks; Occupations
Abstract: This paper analyses social interactions between detailed occupational positions as a means of exploring social and occupational inequalities. Two methods are employed: descriptive techniques of social network analysis, and a well-established modelling approach (the 'CAMSIS' method of 'Social Interaction Distance' analysis). New results on occupational connections are presented for four countries - the United States, Romania, the Philippines and Venezuela – illustrative of a range of socio-economic regimes. Our analyses use detailed occupational measures based upon census data from 2000 to 2002, and we also use data on educational attainment, cross-classified by occupational positions. A broad, singular dimension of social stratification is shown to be the principal element of the structure of social interactions between occupations, but the methods also reveal the social role of various boundaries in occupational interaction patterns (defined by work location, education, and gender). We argue that such distinctions imply that occupational data at a disaggregated level can provide a more thorough understanding of social structure than is observable using amalgamated occupational schemes.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nick Crossley and Gemma Edwards
Sociological Research Online 21 (2) 13
Keywords: SNA, Mixed Methods, Social Networks
Abstract: In this paper we make a methodological case for mixed method social network analysis (MMSNA). We begin by both challenging the idea, prevalent in some quarters, that mixing methods means combining incompatible epistemological or theoretical assumptions and by positing an ontological argument in favour of mixed methods. We then suggest a methodological framework for MMSNA and argue for the importance of ‘mechanisms’ in relational-sociological research. Finally, we discuss two examples of MMSNA from our own research, using them to illustrate arguments from the paper.
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.
Julia Häuberer and Alexander Tatarko
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 10
Keywords: Individual Social Capital, Social Networks, Culture, Modernization, Tradition, Resource Generator
Abstract: This article addresses the influence of cultural background on the access to social capital in family and friendship networks. We will analyze four different culture groups: Czechs and Russians (Muscovites) both representing post-modernized cultures and Dagestans and Chechens both representing traditional cultures. The data will be analyzed using univariate comparisons and fixed effects regressions. Our results indicate that cultural background does not play such a crucial role for social network composition and social capital access through the family or friends. In both cases, Dagestans, Chechens and Czechs access significantly less social capital than do the Russians (Muscovites), however only if Russians (Muscovites) are in frequent contact with their families or have large friendship networks. In other words, network embeddedness seems to play a more important role than cultural background for social capital access.