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Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens

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Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens

Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens

Posted by Peter van der Graaf, AskFuse Research Manager / Fuse Knowledge Exchange Broker, Teesside University

?Having trouble analysing your qualitative data" Are you lost in the sheer amount of data you have collected and don?t know where to start"?

This was the strapline of a course at Kings College London last week, called ?Ethnography Language and Communication? and a big reason why I attend the summer school. Within my NIHR Fellowship research, I have collected big piles of observation notes, interview transcripts and meeting minutes and struggled to make sense of them. So did the course deliver"

Over five days, we were presented with a range of analytical tools borrowed from linguistics and applied to qualitative data (interview transcripts and video recording of job interviews and classrooms) with an ethnographic lens. In essence, this means trying to understand how meaning is constructed in social interactions by studying text and recordings generated from these interactions in fine detail. First from the perspective of the specific situation in which these texts were constructed, but with an explicit aim to make valid statements about the wider social structures in which these interactions are embedded.

The course leaders* have even come up with a name for this academic discipline: ?linguistic ethnography?. Linguistic ethnographers acknowledge that texts are representations of social actions and, therefore, that to understand these texts you need to closely investigate the social interactions that produced them.

However, they also explore how these interactions are embedded in institutional contexts and are closely linked to social interactions elsewhere, both in time and location, adding a historic and place perspective. Sociological concepts of power, social class, inequality and identity feature eventually in these analyses but are not presumed and not used in the first instance. The specific context of the social interaction is initially key for understanding what is going on.

The course attracted speakers and participants from across the globe, including the UK, US, China, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Turkey, Israel and many more. This international gathering aligned nicely with the aims of the course: being highly interactional, working across different contexts with different types of data and approaches coming together to co-create a better understanding of their data.

Although we discussed many theoretical concepts, the course was also practical and gave us the opportunity to experiment with a range of analytical tools (or what Ben Rampton preferred to call ?sensitizing concepts?): from micro-analysis (a form of Goffmanian conversation analysis: applying a dramaturgical lens (life is a stage!) to data interpretation) to discourse genres featuring The X Factor, multi-modal analysis (looking simultaneously at different modes of communication such as language, gaze and gestures), semiotic l...
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Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens Struggling to see a way through your data" Try a different lens


News source: Fuse
Publication date: 19-07-2019 16:07
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