Sunday, 31 January 2016

Weekend 3: Handwritten notes

Theorising data

The quality of theorising data is key in doctoral research. See Dean’s two papers to explore what it means to theorise something, for example application of Foucault’s ideas to policies surrounding safeguarding in sports coaching.
Rorty stats that “All we have is interpretation”, so all we have is differing interpretations of experiences. Should we strive towards truth, in its absence.
Jean-Luc Nancy explored the concept of “being with”: we cannot exist as individuals, as we are social beings. Our identity emerges through our interaction with others. Identity captures our engaging with others within particular contexts.
Judith Butler discussed performativity – we perform differently in different contexts. There is no ‘essence’ of ourselves.
We bring meaning to data – it is a process of construction of meaning. The data does not exist without the meaning and the significance we put on it. Context is of key significance, and helps us to produce meaning. There is construction of the context between interviewer and interviewee.
This links to reflexivity – the narrative of who we are, our aspects of self and our connections to the research.

There was a brief discussion over research data anomalies – it is of great interest to explore anomalous data rather than to try and ignore it. Why is it there? What does it mean in relation to the agreeing data?

 Key issues arising from the evening activity
Truth is plural – there are multiple truths.
Who we are and how we see influences our perception of truth. Our interpretations cause us to see the world differently. We privilege some things and deselect others – perception is very individual.
We need to relate this to our ontological and epistemological position.
Ontology is existence.

If truth is a plural concept, the ontological status is relativism. Interpretation is critical. We are not dealing with the ontological realism of a singularity of truth but a plurality of multiple truths.

BUT – does this mean ‘anything goes’? – The tutor asked us to question whether this was actually important. We always have to live with uncertainty, so why not with uncertainty over research. However, there are certain truths which hold sway at different times – these are not foundational but are based on community debate as to what is temporarily/provisionally held to count as ‘truth’. However, within this community, there may be different perspectives, with tensions between them. Therefore, there is no total agreement on interpretation/truth.
Other key issues:

Meaning does not reside in the data itself – meaning is brought into being and partly constructed through our interaction with it. The sense we make of data is affected by what we bring (culturally, socially, historically located) i.e. CONTEXT.
Discovery as a metaphor for research is inaccurate. It is more a construction and creation than a discovery. For example phenomenological hermeneutics acknowledge the importance of ‘self’ in the construction and telling of the ‘other’ – self and other are conjoined.
We cannot bracket off our subjectivity but we must embrace it – this is who I am and this affects how I understand and interpret.

Heidegger suggests that we are already located in presuppositions – ie our ‘being in the world’ – our social, historical, cultural context.
Nancy: ‘being with’ locates you – who you are with affects who you are.

Michael Polanyi discussed ‘tacit knowledge’: knowledge we cannot explicitly explain but that we have. We cannot render a feeling fully explicit (e.g. my choice of IPA?)

Other issues raised:
The criteria with which our research is judged: where I position myself in relation to onto-epistemic issues. I  need to articulate how I want to be judged – I will need to discuss the criteria for judgement.

Conventional criteria do not apply in qualitative contexts. Remodelling of the criteria to include, for example, authenticity and verisimilitude are still ‘fudging’ the issue – still appealing to accuracy but by different names. We only have the power of rhetoric to take the reader into your word – you need resonance with the reader, and this will not always happen.

What you write will only ever ring true for some people. Validity shifts from accuracy to a plain that recognises the importance of resonance and experience – connection to the information. This is not a simplistic correspondence, such as ‘does the report accurately represent reality?’

This shifts the test of validity – the truth of the account partly resides in the standpoint of the reader. Truth isn’t solely controlled by the authorial account.

Dean is going to send out a paper on the flexibility of validity.

Presentation (PowerPoint) on Heidegerrian Phenomenology

Slide 1:

Ò  … utilises a hermeneutic approach that is fundamentally ontological
Ò  This informs us of ‘how’ a ‘what’ is to be treated, and is primarily methodological
Ò  ‘what does this data mean’ becomes ‘how is this data meaningful’?
The activity we took part in was fundamentally ontological – we drew on our own being. The questions move from ‘what does this mean’ to ‘how is this meaningful?’ – our interaction and construction bring meaning into being.

 Slide 2:

Ò  The latter cannot be answered except in relation to Dasein (da – here; sein – being)
Ò  Thus, descriptions are impossible without interpretation
Ò  ‘the meaning of phenomenological description as a method lies in interpretation’ (Heidegger 1962: 61).
Descriptions are impossible without interpretation and construction of meaning. Our identities (plural rather than singular) are exposed differently depending on our ‘being with’. Identities are contextually located.

Slide 3:
Ò  Being and becoming are hermeneutic:
Ò   ‘the phenomenology of Dasein is a hermeneutic in the primordial significance of the word, where it designates this business of interpreting’ (Heidegger 1962: 62).
Becoming: Being isn’t fixed – it is dynamic. We ‘become’ according to those around us – it is relational.

Slide 4:

Ò  Interpretation is ‘grounded in something we have in advance fore-having … we see in advance fore-sight … and something we grasp in advance fore-conception (Heidegger 1962: 193)
Ò  The implication for research is that data is analysed through these fore-structures
Ò  Such structures suggest that understanding is not ground in data but in what people have in advance – the always already Being
‘Fore-having’ – we have ‘fore-conception’ – we analyse data through these fore-structures. The understanding is not grounded in data but in being and fore-having – i.e. we have preconceptions and ‘baggage’.

Therefore, research is always already theoretically over-determined – we are always already theoretical as we are always already schooled in some sense, e.g. through family, community, culture, tradition. We cannot bracket that.

 Slide 5:

Ò  Key points
Ò  The object and subject of the world are inseparable
Ò   Dasein is the Being that is peculiar to humans who must paradoxically live in relationships while simultaneously being ultimately alone with oneself
Ò  To understand the Other, a person’s behaviour or expressions, one has to study that person in context
It is impossible to know when what is outside of ourselves starts and what is internal begins in regard to interpretation. Interpretation is an interaction but we cannot pin it down. We cannot recognise the extent of our self. Ethically, this is very powerful as we as the author have to consider equity, responsibility, whose voices we choose to privilege and whose we silence.

Reflexivity involves engaging critically with what we recognise as our position and subjectivity, to interrogate but we will always fail as we cannot fully recognise the extent of our influence.

Reflexivity: positioning our professional values that are shared with the contextualisation of the work.

Grounded Theory

Slide 1:
… addresses the ‘important enterprise of how the discovery of theory from data - systematically obtained and analyzed in social research - can be furthered’
Glaser, B.G. and Strauss, A.L (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: strategies for qualitative research, London:  Aldine, p.1).

Glaser & Strauss (1967): The discovery of theory from data
Theories from the study are based on data – theories emerged from the data, i.e. the authors weren’t bringing anything to it – the data drove the themes. This assumes that we enter the context of research without baggage, in order to see what’s occurring. It assumes that no literature has been read beforehand, there are no lenses to see through, allowing data to drive theory production – data “springs forth”. BUT there is no acknowledgement of a lens.


Slide 2:

  … relies upon ‘a general method of comparative analysis’ (p.1)

‘we would all agree that in social research generating theory goes hand in hand with verifying it’ (p.2).

This is problematic as it suggests that there is logical induction. Karl Popper critiques logical induction through the black swan story. There is no way of verifying a theory based on induction. There is always the possibility of an anomaly in the next observation. We can only ever falsify a theory rather than verify it.

How can we ever know how close we are to ‘the truth’? Verify against what? We cannot know how near or far we are from a ‘truth’.

The categories we develop in our minds are influenced by our framing of the context. We cannot verify it – if something (a theme) keeps repeating itself, it is because we keep seeing it. We may not see other things.

There is a tension in grounded theory – it wants us to be open-minded, inductive and generative BUT it is also seeking to verify – that is, it is narrowing, reductive and deductive.

What are the external references allowing us to verify something, other than keeping seeing the same thing? – affirmation of the self.


Slide 3:

  According to Glaser and Strauss – grounded theory appeals to the ‘interrelated jobs of theory in sociology:

                (1) to enable prediction and explanation of         behaviour; (2) to be useful in theoretical advance in                 sociology; (3) to be usable in practical applications –        prediction and explanation should be able to give                 the practitioner understanding and some control of        situation; (4) to provide a perspective on behaviour                 – a stance to be taken towards data; and (5) to guide and provide a style for research on particular         areas of behaviour’ (p.3).

“Prediction and explanation” come up several times in these assumptions – these align with the key concepts of positivism. This holds to the view that there is a ‘real view’ of the world – theory is developed on that basis and we can remove our subjectivity, so in reality, GT is positivist.

Slide 5:

  Located where? … possibly conceptual tensions?

  Used in education research, nursing and organisational studies, but also elsewhere

  Has much in common with ethnography, case study, action research

  Rejection of a priori theorising – emergent theory

  Implicit verification-ism

  Not steeped in literature

  Inductive, constructivist approach to data collection

  Imperative to reach saturation, but why?

  Interaction between data collection, analysis and theory building – ‘theory must “fit” the situation being researched’ (p.3)

Features of grounded theory: It is unsure where it sits – there are conceptual tensions. It rejects a priori theorising.

Slide 6:

  ‘Categories must be readily (not forcibly) applicable to and indicated by the data under study; by “work” we mean that they must be meaningfully relevant to and be able to explain the behaviour under study
  … categories are discovered by examination of the data’ (p. 3).
  ‘the adequacy of a theory for sociology today cannot be divorced from the process by which it is generated’ (p.5).

To generate theory…

GT suggests that the meaning/theme is already there, and is not imposed by the self. But how can this be separate? We interact (with our baggage) – they suggest that this doesn’t happen and that the categories are there *before* our interaction.

Slide 8:
  ‘The biographies of scientists are replete with stories of occasional flashes of insight, of seminal ideas, garnered from sources outside the data. But the generation of theory from such insights must then be brought into relation to the data, or there is great danger that theory and the empirical world will mismatch’ (p.6)

What is the ‘empirical world’ – we only know the phenomenal one through our own senses and constructions.
NOTE: The tutor did mention the work of CHarmaz with regard to grounded theory, but suggested that her developments took it away from grounded theory and it was closer to phenomenology.

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