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Doing Qualitative Research

Some students are attracted to qualitative methods because of their more narrative format. Now that you know more about this method, how would you explain its place in the research continuum? How have your own thoughts about qualitative research changed since learning more about it? How do these thoughts relate to your worldview? What strategies might you use to help you become more comfortable with or develop further expertise in qualitative research as a consumer and/or producer of research?

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On Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a narrative based-research method wherein the focus of the study is not measurement of scientific phenomenon but the mining of details. The more details one can find out about the phenomenon, the better it becomes. As a social science method, it provides a sense of 'story' to the problem, whether explanatory or one of great details, it becomes a lens from which as social scientists, we can come to understand a particular subject. What does this mean? For me, human beings are story-tellers. Everything we do can be retold, explained and explored via the use of words. According to Foucault and Derrida, we use language to create meaning. When we communicate with each other and exchange stories and perspectives about a particular subject or a particular experience, what we create is the meaning and value to us of the phenomenon itself. Language and discourse - these elements of the research continuum are of great importance. We depend on narrative exchange with members of our social world to learn, to find out certain things about our reality, to express ourselves. Without language and discourse, knowledge creation will be very limited. As human beings we see our reality, give meaning to whatever we see - objects, events, people, situations, the environment - and make sense of whatever we see this way. Imagine a world without language - this world for human beings is simply unnatural for language allows us to 'be' social. It is in our nature to talk, to relate to each other, to know how each other are thinking, to share and be a part of the wider community. This is how our society is built because society is created via social constructs. Social constructs are concepts of understanding and instruments of making sense. Let me elaborate. Family - this is a social construct, something that we have come to create as an important concept and meaning within society. You can only understand what family is if you understand the concept of what family is. It makes sense in the mind only. Tags like mother, father, brother, sister, clan, relatives - they can only make sense if you understand the social construct that is family because unlike environmental objects like clouds, stones, soil, the idea of family can only exist in our minds and in our social life. ...

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