9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Conversational Analysis and Grounded Theory Building II, C2.01

The Trifle That Matters. Noticing Unnoticeable in Qualitative Research

One of the commonly advanced arguments for qualitative methods is a detailed and meticulous approach to the studied phenomenon. Numerous researchers, especially those explaining methodological decisions in their articles and research reports, repeatedly emphasize that qualitative methods enabled them to get indepth insight and access to all significant parts, aspects and episodes of the phenomena. Nowadays, the indepth insight often becomes a synonym for qualitative methods, but unfortunately it is more a slogan than applied research practice. After paragraphs of high-flown methodological statements we find rather sketchy descriptions, careless transcripts and weak conclusions. What is the problem then? Is the detailed analysis not so important after all, or is it just so difficult to apply? If we recognize the indepth insight as an attempt to uncover complex nature of studied events and analyze those significant aspects, we can formulate more precise questions. Should we care about all the details which occur in the data? How deep should we explore? What makes some details more important than others and how can we identify those noteworthy? Finally, how can we cope with the obviousness of studied details of everyday life, the obviousness which makes important details unnoticeable. In my presentation, I will try to answer these questions using three examples from different qualitative researches, comparing analytical decisions, showing indepth findings and overlooked details. I will refer to the ethnographic study, grounded theory methodology research and conversation analysis, presenting different ways and general importance of gaining detailed qualitative analysis. The conclusion will provide further suggestions on how to turn 'indepth insight' slogan into the research practice and how to identify the trifle that matters