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Interpretive Methodologies and Methods

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❶Why did I conclude that? The presentation on the subject of Judging Ethnographic Manuscripts is available.

Concepts and Processes

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Keeping dates on each entry can help illustrate how the researcher is changing through the course of the study. During this process, it is useful to ask questions of oneself such as the following:. In the process of attempting to answer these questions, a researcher is constituting the self as a subject of study along with the other materials, objects, or units of analysis.

Rigour of interpretation is far less discussed in methods texts, partly because interpretation is often considered a subjective, individual act of discussing implications or drawing conclusions. Such conceptions can be misleading; the interpretive process begins even before the first research question is formulated.

Because the interpretive process rarely appears in the final research report, its procedural elements remain elusive. Here, I do not address this issue fully, but provide an example of iterative reflexivity in process. Reflexive processes can help identify some of the ways the researching self is situated.

Useful for all the obvious epistemological reasons, this process of situating the self from different angles is also a way to help others read our work beyond the surface of the text. This preoccupation with the self may seem merely solopsistic but is a critical way to orient the perspective from which an interpretation is generated, but also to build signposts that can help others triangulate themselves in relation to both the context and the cultural interpreter.

Qualitative approaches assist in this process because they are marked by iterative processes already. Much can be gained by attending closely to those moments when the analytical gaze shifts from one thing to another thing, such as from the empirical details to the theoretical big picture. As inquiry cycles through observation, analysis, and interpretation, these critical junctures or key turning points provide opportunities to engage in reflexive analysis.

At these decision points, we can more readily reflect on why we made —or are making— certain choices and what these choices imply about the research project, the research lens, the focus of the question, and the purpose of the research in the first place. When we hit a turning point or a decision point, we are more likely to re-examine the fit between the questions and the phenomenon and between method and question, question the ways in which patterns or answers are emerging, and pay attention to how the boundaries of the context are shifting.

In my experience, these reflections can be guided by the best practice routines of iterative or emergent qualitative methods. In a sense, this process yields data for further analysis within the context of the study in progress. Self-reflexive writing and mapping exercises are useful for this process. As an exercise within the course of conducting a study, brain dumps can help reveal some of the hidden intersections of the self, the local experience of the participants, local history and culture, and scientific inquiry.

A brain dump is essentially a timed writing exercise to get what is inside the head out onto the page for external inspection. Many techniques can be used for this type of exercise, but there are four important elements to include:. Time the writing exercise 2. Do not edit or backspace: Do not stop writing during the entire exercise; When you lose track, hit enter or start a new line with a different thought.

Do not dwell on what has been written. Do not try to complete a thought if you lose track of it. Start with a prompting question. Repeat the exercise with a slightly different prompt. Obviously, this technique aligns with elicitation techniques used in psychology, ethnography, and design studies, as well as classic techniques of brainstorming.

Here, the distinction is that it is intended to both enact and produce cognitive processing from the self, to make it visible for inspection or introspection. Identifying all the ways to look at the world is impossible, but to identify even some of our own filters and lenses is a reflexive challenge worth doing. Below, I ask some questions about my own perspective as a researcher. What is my perspective?

My activities in the field are informed by my use of and familiarity with interpretive qualitative methods, rhetorical criticism, feminism, and critical theory. I generally believe that interpretations should be derived from, linked to, and supported by some sort of data collected in situ. What methods do I tend to use in collecting data? Interview and participant observation, directly, but research journals, indirectly. I write constantly in my research journal, in which I record both my direct observations and my thoughts about my observations.

My bad habits in research journal writing: I tend to spin in reflexive circles until I lose focus on the phenomenon. I can second-guess myself endlessly.

What methods do I use in analyzing data? From my perspective, this term describes a mindset or epistemological approach more than a specific set of interpretive procedures. Sensemaking, in the ethnographic sense, is not produced through thinking or writing alone; I require other tools to help me get toward sensemaking. So what do I use? Initially, I just dump my toolbox upside down and try different approaches.

As much as I wish it were otherwise, this tends to be my go-to, and so I acknowledge I am text-centric. I borrow heavily from rhetorical criticism methods, because the systematic procedures help organize the data early in the process. I might conduct a metaphor or narrative analysis.

I find these methods particularly useful in breaking down the structure of a text into thematic categories that can be then further studied, using still other sensemaking lenses. Later in the process I use deconstruction methods, mostly as a way of playing with different types of possible meanings. I deconstruct to pay attention to how events might happen otherwise, or how stories, arguments, or web sites might be rewritten.

I experiment with reversing binaries, or exaggerating them. This is useful as an analytical tool, but also a reflexive tool to consider how my own binaries are operating on my analysis. I generally try to follow constructivist grounded theory procedures as a guide to sampling and looking for themes and categories, but end up being less systematic than I believe the method warrants.

Sometimes, in the back of my mind, I think about conversational analysis, but I am not rigorous in my application of this method as it is practiced in the United States. Rather, I think about the premises of this approach as I pore through interview transcripts and conversations.

I use the idea of genealogy offered by Foucault, looking backward to find a difference that makes a difference. After I conduct rough analyses using a range of methods, I settle into a more refined analysis, using a narrower set of tools. What else might make my work incomprehensible to someone else? I mix methods from interpretive, postmodern, and critical schools of research.

I have potentially inconsistent theoretical grounding. Especially if they knew I think of the entire process and product through the idea of remix.

How much of this is included in any final report? Likely not much, if anything. Because this is an important step of qualitative research as well as a useful tool for meta reflection, one is likely to already be doing such a map, whether it actually looks like a map or not. I find that articulating these relations and positions visually helps me see how distant or near I position myself, and adds information about the quality or form of the connections between various elements of the situation.

Some years ago, I ran across this amazing mapping of complexity sciences, which is not exactly like my own history, but similar enough to lure me in. See more information about this map by Brian Castellani and an interactive version. This sort of map is not easily accomplished, but even a rough version yields immense value. It helps us identify how our own ideas evolve, most obviously. But it can also help others situate our unique influences. Handbook of Research on Competency-Based Edu The majority of adult learners are looking to atta Cultural Awareness and Competency Developmen As the world becomes more globalized, student popu Handbook of Research on Foreign Language Edu The role of technology in the learning process can Promoting Active Learning through the Flippe With the integration of technology into education Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces in High Higher education is facing a renaissance in terms Planning and Implementing Resource Discovery Educational communities today are rapidly increasi Assessing and Evaluating Adult Learning in C Increased interest in and use of theoretical and e Integrating Adult Learning and Technologies As adult learners and educators pioneer the use of Implementing Information Technology Governan In many organizations, information technology IT Take your research with you.

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In other methods, such as case research, the researcher must take a “neutral” or unbiased stance during the data collection and analysis processes, and ensure that her personal biases or preconceptions does not taint the nature of subjective inferences derived from interpretive research.

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Interpretive research methodologies and methods are not new but are today in a minority position in political science disciplinary training and mainstream journals. Over the last decade, there has been increasing interest in, and recognition and support of, "qualitative" methods in the social sciences broadly and in the discipline of political science, in .

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Interpretive research is a framework and practice within social science research that is invested in philosophical and methodological ways of understanding social reality. The interpretive method, also known as interpretive sociology, or interpretivism The critical method, also sometimes called critical sociology Let's take a closer look at these two research methods.

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Accordingly, “interpretive researchers assume that access to reality (given or socially constructed) is only through social constructions such as language, consciousness, shared meanings, and instruments”. What Is an Interpretivist Approach? A: Quick Answer. This differs from most other data collection and research methods because it shifts the focus away from making and proving the researcher's predictions. It runs all the information gathered through the filters of social constructs, cultural norms and relationships between subjects and.