Tuesday, 19 March 2013

What's the critical discourse behind your content analysis Mr. Miles?

Last week's lecture on Analyzing Texts and Artifacts: Content Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis, tried to help us distinguish between quantitative and qualitative, positivism and post-structuralism and Rumsfeld and Žižek. I found the point about content analysis vs. critical discouse to be very insightful; that of what's presented on the surface with text, versus what's actually intended.  The intension behind the content.  How else would intension be measured if not through the lived experiences, stories, and qualitative data that come out of those stated objectives and polished agruments?

Now to tie that in with this week's reading by Robert K. Yin, where Yin responds to Matthew Miles's attack on qualitative analysis - and it's companion, the case study, by putting forward the following points:

1. "the case study does not imply the use of a particular type of evidence. Case studies can be done by using either qualitative or quantitative evidence. The evidence may come from fieldwork, archival records, verbal reports, observations, or any combination of these."

2. the case study does not "imply the use of a particular data collection method. A common misconception is that case studies are solely the result of ethnographies or of participantobservation,
yet it should be quickly evident that numerous case studies have been done without using these method."

3. That case studies represent a 'research strategy', and as "a research strategy, the distinguishing characteristic of the case study is that it attempts to examine: (a) a contemporary phenomenon in its real-life context, especially when (b) the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident."

Now expanding on that last point, that the case study represents a 'research strategy' by attempting to examine a contemporary phenomenon in it's real-life context.  It seems to me that if the interest in and intent of the research are ethically motivated, and the analysis potentially helpful and insightful to curious minds and those living that contemporary phenomenon, what's the point of discrediting the methods used.  I guess my point is, if a quantitative study could produce better and more accurate results, or even build on the qualitative data gleened from the case study,  then all the better, but if supporters of the 'scientific' method are simply interested in descrediting other methods, without offering alternatives or suggestions for how to improve, then it's simply an extension of the us against them thought form, and a way of leveraging one's contributions by deminishing the contribution of another.

Yin, R.K. (1981). The case study crisis: Some answers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26(1), 58-65.

-Mandissa Arlain

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