Things that I found interesting as I was reading Merriam, 2009

Extracted from Merriam, 2009

The primary goal of a basic qualitative study is to uncover and interpret how meaning is constructed, how people make sense of their lives and their worlds

Emic perspective, that of the insider to the culture versus the etic that of the researcher or outsider.

Phenomenology: interpretive type

a study of people consciousness experience of their life-world, that is their “everyday life and social action”

besides interviewing, the researcher usually explores his or her own experiences in part to examine dimensions of the experiences  and in part to become aware of the personal prejudices, viewpoints and assumptions. This process exploration is called epoche which means to refrain from judgment.

Ethnography: interpretive type

The heart of this research is “thick description” – a term popularized by Gertz (1973)

An award winning ethography is by Fadiman (1997) which illustrates the power of “thick” description in a study of a Hmong child in the US whose medical condition brought about the collision of two cultures’ views of medicine and healing

Grounded theory: interpretive type

Focuses on building theory

Particularly useful for addressing questions about process, that is, how something changes over time.

Narrative Analysis: interpretive type

The oldest and most natural form of sense making are stories or narratives – (Johassen & Hernandez-Serrano, 2002, p.66)

we retell our respondents’ accounts through our analytic redescriptions, We, too, are storytellers and through our concepts and methods-our research strategies, data samples, transcription procedures, specifications of narrative units and structures and interpretive perspectives-we construct the story and its meaning, In this sense the story is always co authored, either directly in the process of an interviewer eliciting an account or indirectly through our representing and thus transforming others’ texts and discourses. (Mishler-1995, p117-118)

Critical Research: not interpretive type

The focus is to critique and challenge, to transform and empower.

An example of this research is Burbules (1986) analysis of the children’s book, Tootel! He reveals how the seemingly innocent story of a baby locomotive learning to be an adult locomotive can be read as parable of schooling, work and adulthood – and how the oppressive structures of class and gender are reinforced in our society. 


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