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In general, however, most researchers have found it difficult to break out of the conceptual framework of their own discipline. Although quantitatively oriented researchers such as demographers and economists make increasing use of qualitative data collection methods, Obermeyer argues that it has proved much harder for them to accept the analytical frameworks used in the disciplines from which qualitative data collection methods are borrowed.
Some have argued that the popularity of focus groups is due to the fact that they are much less tied to particular analytical frameworks than are some other qualitative methods. Similarly, some economists feel that many qualitatively oriented sociologists and anthropologists are unwilling to give up their skepticism about sample survey research findings on subjects such as poverty. A number of writers have argued that the greatest potential benefit from cross-disciplinary research would come from developing new integrated analytical frameworks where two disciplines could each draw on the conceptual and analytical frameworks of the other.
Rao, for example, would like to see ethnographic analysis being used to inform the development of rational choice models.
While progress has been made, the potential for sharing disciplinary frameworks remains largely untapped. Ragin argues in favor of a distinct comparative research approach that is more than the simple integration of quantitative and qualitative methods. While qualitative researchers tend to consider multiple cases as many instances of the same thing,. Comparative researchers examine patterns of similarities and differences across cases and try to come to terms with their diversity.
Quantitative researchers. In quantitative research, the goal is to explain the co-variation of one variable with another, usually across many, many cases. Furthermore, the quantitative researcher typically has only broad familiarity with the cases included in a study. The emphases of comparative research on diversity especially, the different patterns that may exist within a specific set of cases and on familiarity with each case, makes this approach especially well suited for the goals of exploring diversity, interpreting cultural or historical significance, and advancing theory.
Datta also stresses the important role of case studies as an integrating tool. Although the integrated approach must be adapted to the needs of each specific study, a fully integrated research approach will normally seek to ensure integration at the following stages of the research process:.
Conceptual and Analytical Framework. An integrated approach can broaden the conceptual and analytical framework of a study. In many demographic or economic research projects, for example, the study is designed to test hypotheses concerning quantitative relationships among the variables in the model. Frequently non-contextual data collection and analysis methods are used, and no contextual variables are included to take into consideration the unique characteristics of the social, economic, political, and cultural context within which the study is conducted.
In these cases an integrated approach could strengthen the analysis by taking into consideration the influence of contextual variables such as social organization, culture or the political context. In demographic research in particular, there is increasing interest in the effect of culture on demographic outcomes, but conventional quantitative research approaches have not been able to capture the subtleties and complexities of culture. Culture is either ignored in the modeling, or it is reduced to one or more dummy variables in what Obermeyer describes as the "add fieldwork and stir" approach.
Many demographers, and some economists, believe that one of the greatest potential contributions of anthropology to their discipline is to permit a fuller understanding of culture to be built into their models. Kertzer and Fricke discuss several factors which may constrain the full adoption of the anthropological approach to culture by demographers; the second and third of these points may also be relevant to economics and other quantitatively oriented disciplines.
First, most demographers are trying to adopt a structuralist-functionalist model of culture, which most anthropologists would consider to be at least thirty years out of date. Second, many demographers who are unfamiliar with anthropological theories and methods have tried to adopt certain concepts concerning culture without understanding the theories underlying the concept. Such borrowing out of context tends to greatly limit the utility of the ideas that are borrowed.
A related point is that demographers have usually not wished to become involved with the ideological debates surrounding modern anthropology, some of which concern the interpretation of culture. On the other hand, sociological, political science, and anthropological frameworks can also be incorporated into the design of economic research in areas such as poverty assessment see the India poverty study described in Chapter 4 , social capital, inter-household transfers see the Cartagena income transfer study in Chapter 5 , and the evaluation of the impacts of many kinds of development interventions see the evaluation of education projects in Chapters 6 and 7, and the Indonesia water supply project in Chapter 8.
Understanding Research: Coping with the Quantitative - Qualitative Divide
In each case the analytical framework and the whole research approach would have to be broadened to incorporate these new concepts. Similarly, many kinds of anthropological, sociological, and political research can benefit from the incorporation of economic approaches.
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He states:. Economics is in the business of developing formal models and has spent countless person years constructing a quantitative discourse where models of human behavior are checked against survey data with statistical tools. These models assume some kinds of intelligent action — which does not have to be merely economically rational.
6.4: Qualitative Research
Some of the recent World Bank poverty assessments are developing an integrated conceptual framework which combines contextual and non-contextual methods to explain how factors such as culture, community organization and the local economy can explain varations in the ways that families with similar conditions in terms of non-contextual poverty and welfare indicators perceive their situation and their prospects for improvement World Bank Lampietti Chapter 10 illustrates how the economic concept of contingent valuation was combined with anthropological studies of household and community knowledge and attitudes about malaria to provide new insights into household decision making with respect to the purchase of a hypothetical malaria treatment in Northern Ethiopia.
Exploratory Analysis. Qualitative methods can be used to conduct exploratory analysis during the preliminary stages of a survey to understand the social, cultural, and political context affecting the communities to be covered by the study. These methods can also help with hypothesis testing, and the definition of key concepts such as "the household," "work," and "vulnerability.
In the India poverty study Chapter 4 , the exploratory analysis highlighted the importance of the caste system as a constraint on household perception of the possibility of escaping from poverty, and it showed that many families believed that leaving the village was the only possible way to escape.
Sample Selection. The use of statistical sampling procedures can help to ensure that the results of case study research and other qualitative methods can be generalized, thereby increasing the likelihood that the findings will be accepted and used by quantitatively oriented policy makers and planners see Chapters 4,5,6,7, and 8 for alternative ways in which researchers tried to ensure the generalizability and credibility of their findings. On the other hand, exploratory research methods can be used to determine the criteria for the formulation of cluster-sampling and stratified-sampling designs by helping to identify some of the important social and cultural characteristics of different groups which could not be obtained from the kinds of statistical sources normally used in sample selection.
Exploratory research can also be useful in multi-stage sampling, where it is important to understand the composition of individual households within a multi-unit building or compound.
Data Collection Methods. This issue has been discussed earlier. Data collection is the area in which the procedures and benefits of integrated approaches are best understood. The traditional approach to project planning and evaluation looked at inputs , implementationprocesses how the inputs are used , outputs, and impacts. However, researchers are increasingly aware that projects take place in a certain context, and they are recognizing that it is important to understand the household characteristics, the socioeconomic environment, and the political and institutional environment within the project is planned and implemented.
Although a quantitative survey is usually the best way to estimate the magnitude and distribution of poverty, the proportion of the population with access to different public services, or the quantitative impacts of projects;, it is usually not the best method for understanding the socioeconomic environment, institutional and political processes, or how different kinds of households within different cultural contexts are going to respond to a project. Some researchers would go even further and challenge the conventional wisdom that survey research is an objective process for collecting "facts" about a community or activity.
Instead they would argue that any kind of interview must be regarded as a social process in which the outcome is dependent upon the characteristics and expectations of the interviewer and respondents, and of the context in which the interview takes place. Qualitative methods, by comparison, are well suited for the analysis and interpretation of the context within which families live, or within which organizations or groups are operating and projects are implemented.
Ethnography, sociology, and political science can evaluate contextual variables and explain how they affect the behavior and attitudes of the individuals or groups being studied. The analysis of these contextual and cultural factors should be an integral part of the research design. If this analysis is incorporated into an exploratory study during the research design phase, communities can be ranked on the contextual variables of interest to the study so that this information can be used in the design of stratified or cluster samples.
However, qualitative methods of contextual analysis are often in-depth studies of a single, or small number of communities or areas, and consequently it may be difficult to generalize from these studies to assess the overall impact of these contextual factors at the regional or national level. In cases where it is necessary to generalize to large populations, the findings of the qualitative studies can be used to identify a few numerical indicators which can then be incorporated into quantitative surveys as part of large-scale studies.
Qualitative methods are particularly useful for the description of the project implementation process and for assessing the quality of implementation. Differences in outcomes and impacts for projects with similar resource endowments can often be attributed to differences in how the projects were implemented. Effective participatory approaches, adapted to local conditions, may be used in one project, while another project might use more rigid procedures that are less responsive to local conditions.
As Sedlacek and Hunte Chapter 7 show, individual personalities in this case the characteristics of the head teacher can also have a major impact on project outcomes. Qualitative methods can also be used to assess the quality of participatory planning and implementation methods. Every community and group has its own distribution of power, which is based partly on local traditions, partly on linkages to external political and economic systems, and partly on personalities.
As a result, some participatory processes are dominated by a few traditional leaders or powerful people, while others are more open. It is frequently the case that certain groups, such as women, young people, economically weaker groups, or certain ethnic groups are at least partially excluded from effective participation in decision-making.
Brown Chapter 8 reports that women were largely excluded from the planning and management of local water supply projects in Indonesia, even though water management is traditionally the responsibility of women. Surveys and methods relying on administrative information or the reports of community leaders are usually inadequate for capturing these political and cultural nuances. Some of the recent World Bank poverty assessments World Bank show how contextual and non-contextual methods can be combined with quantitative and qualitative data to explain how contextual factors such as local culture interact with standard indicators of poverty and welfare to influence responses to poverty alleviation programs as well as feelings of family members about their present and future conditions.
The following chapters provide examples of how qualitative methods have been used by researchers to clarify various contextual issues:. Consistency checks and alternative measures of key variables should always be an integral part of integrated approaches.
Qualitative research by Wikipedia
These alternative indicators should be used both as consistency checks and as a means of obtaining a deeper understanding of the variables being studied. Poverty research has shown, for example, that women and men may have a different understanding of the concepts of poverty. In some cases, Participatory Rural Appraisal PRA techniques such as wealth ranking produce rankings of the relative poverty of households or communities that are consistent with the survey estimates based on expenditure, consumption, or income, but in other cases the rankings may produce significant discrepancies.
Women, for example, may place greater emphasis on the concept of vulnerability, which frequently concerns a lack of access to social support networks, than they do on current income or consumption see the India poverty study in Chapter 4.