9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Research Relations and Ethical Issues Building II, C2.01

Research on the Researcher´s Own University Colleagues, existing of two Academic Groups in Conflict

In 2008, a PhD-program in Popular Music Performance was established at a former purely classical conservatory of music in Norway. This was the last step of a 20 year process, which led an originally "anti-academic" music genre as rock all the way to the top of the ivory tower, at the expense of the classical section at the same institution. This process was, concerning the popular music staff, characterized of disrespect from classical colleges, which led to a high level of conflict between the two groups.

The institutionalizing process was also the topic for my PhD-dissertation from 2007. The main empiric basis was interviews of both classical and popular music professors at this conservatory, which is my own place of work. Since I was a very close college of all the interviewees, I had to discuss and solve some really difficult qualitative, methodological, and ethic dilemmas, for instance:

My many roles, confidentiality problems, serious reliability challenges, probably low level of truth or at least two parallel truths, protection of the third part, and possibly additional polarization between the two academic groups just as a consequence of my interviewing. Besides:

How should I treat the disrespectful classical statements that popular music colleges referred to me? Should I quote them in the dissertation and risk a strained relationship to my classical colleges? Alternatively, should I not, and risk criticism from my popular music colleges, because I did not show the worst (or best?) evidences of disrespect? Was I too afraid of falling out with my colleges? Was I too busy of saving my own skin?

Originally I planned to chart the college´s socio-economic background. I had the prejudiced idea that popular musicians had grown up in the lower social classes, while the classical colleges were brought up in "furnished homes", and that these differences could explain the conflicts. Was it research ethical doubtful to reject this sociological approach, which I did because: a) I feared invading my colleges´ private sphere, b) I feared hearing that "my father is an industrial worker" and c) I feared discovering colleges with "low cultural capital"?