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Discovering Qualitative Methods: Field Research, Interviews, and Analysis

Discovering Qualitative Methods: Field Research, Interviews, and Analysis
Author: Carol A.B. Warren - Tracy Xavia Karner
ISBN 13: 9780195384291
ISBN 10: 195384296
Edition: 2
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 2009-03-27
Format: Paperback
Pages: 322
List Price: $59.95

Discovering Qualitative Methods guides students on a journey into the study of social interaction and culture. This highly readable text covers all the major types of qualitative research: field research or ethnography, interviews, documents, and images. Throughout the text, Warren and Karner emphasize the process of social research—from the initial idea to the final paper, journal article, or scholarly monograph.

Chapter One situates the development of qualitative research in a historical and theoretical context. Chapter Two discusses ethical, political, and legal issues in qualitative research, including the development and requirements of institutional review boards. Chapters Three, Four, and Five cover field research in all its contexts, from stranger to member and from solo to team ethnography. The reader is introduced to issues of accessibility and cost in choosing a setting, entrée as event and process, and the intersection of the setting with the field researcher. Chapter Four follows these processes into the establishment of roles and relationships within the setting, including intersections of gender, sex, race, and ethnicity. The task of writing fieldnotes is addressed in Chapter Five. Since thick description is the basis of good analytic description, the importance of writing timely and detailed fieldnotes is emphasized. Various technologies that can assist the student with this task are presented, together with examples and critiques of fieldnotes.

Qualitative interviewing is the subject of Chapters Six and Seven, beginning with topic selection and moving into the process of developing research and interview questions. Various interview formats, from dyads to focus groups, are discussed, and face-to-face is contrasted with telephone and internet interviewing. Selection of interviewees—how many, what social types, and which individuals—is covered, together with how to deal with problems such as the inability to locate respondents and how to elicit detailed narrative answers. The process and format of the qualitative interview is also considered as a social interaction. Warren and Karner further explore the logistics of transcription, or turning a speech event into text, as well as the epistemology of the interview—how qualitative researchers interpret the interview as a source of data and sociological knowledge.

Chapter Eight discusses and analyzes the use of texts and images in qualitative research, including still and moving images, the Internet, and historical documents. The creation of texts and images by the researcher and the respondent are considered methodologically—as is the use of existing documents, photographs, and films. The analysis of qualitative data and the task of writing are developed in Chapters Nine and Ten. By this time in the process of discovering qualitative methods, the researcher has the data: fieldnotes, interview transcripts, copies of texts, or images. The task of analyzing these data is discussed in detail, as are the various techniques and technologies available to facilitate this task. Chapter Ten covers the write-up of the research in the form of class papers, presentations, or publishable articles and books. Step by step, Warren and Karner take the reader through the process of crafting a well-written qualitative analysis. They include discussions and examples of outlines and drafts, titles and authors, abstracts, introductions, methods sections, literature reviews, findings, conclusions, and the relationship between methods, theory, and applied sociology.

The Epilogue considers the future of qualitative sociology. Qualitative methods teaching is flourishing both at the undergraduate and graduate levels in sociology, as well as interdisciplinary areas such as education, gerontology, and evaluation research. Interdisciplinary cultural studies continue to expand theoretical research with qualitative methods. The Epilogue also considers various postmodern approaches to, and critiques of, qualitative methods, including feminist and globalist perspectives. An Instructor's Resource Guide is available. It provides essay exam questions and suggested projects for each chapter. Also included are suggested sample learning assignments and a series of PowerPoint lectures to accompany the book.