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Lindlof T. and Taylor B.- Chapter 5 and 6

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Kristina Kolovrátková

on 24 November 2014

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Transcript of Lindlof T. and Taylor B.- Chapter 5 and 6

Chapter 5: Observing, Learning, and Reporting
by lINDLOF & Taylor

Tactical Observing
Interview Context
Purpose of the Qualitative Interview
For stranger is a new cultural environment as an adventure -) Qualitative researcher is professional stranger

3 principal methods of fieldwork: Observation, Participation, Field-note writing

Soft technology of systematic observation
loosely structured and adaptable rules
sustained, explicit, methodical observing of social situations in relation to their naturally occurring contexts
mindful observation
researcher must be open to learning

Simply be in presence of others, be part of their lives -) join in as responsible and contributing members

Informal talk
Gold´s typology

Complete participant
researcher is fully functioning members of the scene, not known as researcher

best way to know the feelings or beliefs of others and private information, but not frequent option, because:
1) Researchers scope of knowledge is limited only to what he can experience in the member role
2) Full attentiveness, constant worries of discovering
3) Over-identification with group’s ideology, “going native” - uncritical observation
4) Issue of ethics and guilt - ethics is situational X all covert study is exploitative

researcher is participating in group’s activities and reveals his research purpose -) he can study the scene from more perspectives

pre-fieldwork activities to find out which available position in groups provides the best view for observation

researcher is not fully integrated into the group -) does not need to fully follow groups rules

naïve visitor, who needs to be taught things by members - just temporary legitimacy

minimal participation, may nondirectively, briefly interact with participants


at the beggining often explained what kind of information is sought and amount of time needed -) the life of participant will not be too disrupted, and other areas touched

Complete Observer
researcher observes without even being “present” to the participants

absent of meaningful face-to-face contact with participants -) participants do not have opportunity to influence his interpretation -) threat of “going ethnocentric”

legitimization of interpretation

requires free-access scenes (crowds)

Roles based on degree of participation

passive versus active observers
Adapting Roles
Adler and Adler: degree of committed membership:
peripheral member
active member
complete member

Snow: 4 functional roles
controlled sceptic,
ardent (enthusiastic) activist,
buddy researcher,
credentialed expert.

Roles based on social function

Initial observing
where and when the fields is, distinguishing its sites and scenes.
intuitively chose site but underdeveloped sense of which scenes and phenomena are important and how they occur
observation should be non-judgemental, no quick conclusions, not to worry about developing categories for final analysis or patterns of interactions.
2 tasks:
1) develop their perspective on the field and
2) make careful observation of full range of behaviours and objects in the field.
learns role as observer

Who Are the Actors?
the nominal status of various actors in the scene and the related obligations

How Is the Scene Set Up?
the choice and organization of artefacts in a scene signifies what is important to member and how they want to be perceived by outsiders

How do initial interactions occur?
how a group socialize its newcomers -) the initial experiences as texts for interpretation
elements and processes

How do actors claim attention?
When and how its actors claim each other’s attention? When and where actors interact? Who associate with whom and under what conditions?
The location and timing essential for understanding communicative functions and relationships among participants

Which events are significant?
deciding which events counts as an example of a higher order concept

Writing Fieldnotes
Fieldnotes as an evidence
Scratch notes and Headnotes
Scratch notes:
written within the immediate field situation, or soon after it
brief notation about actions, statements, dialogues, objects or impressions that will be expanded later in fieldnotes
recording devices

focused memories of specific events, impressions and evaluations


short, chronological, extensive reconstructions of events, observation, and conversations
they become the event
the most researchers write them at the end of each day
better not discuss the site visit with anyone until they write fieldnotes
10 double-spaced pages of writing per every hour of observation

Journals and diaries
personal reactions, frustrations and assessment of life and work in the field
procedural problems and their solutions,
to vent feelings about interpersonal relationships in the field

Inititial fieldnotes

Initial negotiation as well as participants´ reactions

Not Why? (interpretation can wait), rather
Who? When? Where?
And especially

Every word should be carefully chosen; paraphrases rather than quotations; clear, uncomplicated language; first person voice
e.g. research about night life in California – observation and personal impressions
very detailed in description of actors and their actions (
“young, cropped t-shirt and sweaters and jeans, long blond hair, which they twirled and fluffed while they danced”
clarity, economy and vividness of writing - analogies, imagery, and metaphors
researcher is sensitive in not making conclusions (
"Are all the video clips shown in the club violent? I will have to ask Joe when I interview him

Over a time the pattern of actions and themes of significance become familiar, writing fieldnotes is easier, focus on more interesting topics; more selective and intensive writing -)

Organized, protected fieldnotes, available only to researcher because of privacy

Chapter 6: Asking, Listening and Telling
“conversation with a purpose”, organized talk

interviewer has the control, yet interviewee still has some influence through his answers -) collaborative styles, equality

interview travel deeply and broadly into subjective realities - preeminent method in social sciences

adaptable method, limitless topics, varies in formality, length, spontaneous or planned

usually face-to-face encounters (occasionally Internet, telephone)

Qualitative Interview
To understand the social actors’ experience and perspective
The interviewee is chosen based on experience or shared status or social category

1) People´s stories, accounts of their experiences, social actors´ explanations of their behaviour
2) To understand native conceptualizations of communication
3) To elicit the language forms used by social actors in natural settings (doctor´s slang)
4) To gather information about things or processes that cannot be observed effectively by other means
5) To inquire about the past
6) To verify, validate, or comment on information obtained from other sources - especially at the end of a study to test hypotheses developed in the field
7) Interviews can achieve efficiency in data collection

Interview Types in Communication
Ethnographic interview
informal conversational interview or situational conversation

occurs in the field, spontaneously

-) researcher should be skilled to identify something interesting what is said and done, develop questions on the spot and wait or create opportunity for questioning

Informant Interview
Informants have good knowledge of a scene, itd key features and processes, usually active social actors in a groups, gatekeeper or someone high positioned (! ill-informed about scene at lower level)

Occasionally people with marginal status offer different perspective

Respondent Interview
1) to clarify the meaning of common concepts and opinions,
2) to distinguish the decisive elements of an expressed opinion,
3) to determine what influenced a person to form an opinion or to act in certain way,
4) to classify complex attitude patterns,
5) to understand the interpretations that people attribute to their motivations to act

Respondents speak only for themselves, what they think or how they feel about their social world
One or two sessions
Same or similar questions for different respondents –- comparison across the entire sample
Appropriate experience as key consideration in selecting respondents, or level of experience that is appropriate for research purposes (sometimes we want less experience subjects)

Narrative Interview
more open, dialogical interview

capture and explain the “whole story” in order to understand larger cultural or historical frames

1) the personal narrative stories
2) the organizational narrative stories

close, long-term relationship with participants

the least structured type

Focus Group
interviewing several people at once

used in early stage of survey design, or as stand-alone data collection method

to explore “group effect”, group interaction, chaining effect
2 kinds of group effect:
1) complementary interactions
2) argumentative interactions

6 to 12 persons, about 90 minutes long, can be videotape in order to capture nonverbal behaviour

Media audience research - samples of material

The moderator should keep the balance between motivating individuals to speak out and promoting “good group feeling”

The number of questions usually determines how structured is the interview
When and where to conduct interview?

Low outside pressure on participant at the time of interview, relaxed participant.

Convenience and privacy; safe from interruptions; private space or some neutral public site.

Telephone interview – impersonal X respondents may disclose private thoughts, reduce reactions to the researcher´s cultural identity and body representation (appearance, gender, ethnicity, …)

Interview must be recorded (notes, tape recording)

Tape recording - positives vs. negatives

Recording technique must be checked and ready before interview

Explain purpose of recorder at the beginning in the matter-of-fact tone

If we need only facts, not exact phrasing, note taking may be better.

Recording Interviews
Researchers should try to put themselves in the roles of participants and answer the questions they may have about the study -) achieve rapport with the interview participants.

Rapport is quality of a communication event, not of a relationship. It means
“that I respect the people being interviewed, I will not judge them for what they say to me, and every viewpoint is valid and worthy.“

Begins with clarification of purpose of the study, why was the participant chosen and how the interview will be conducted:
“I want to know how you think about these topics. There are no right or wrong responses to the questions, it is important to hear your views in your own words”,
“I have some topic I want to discuss today but you are welcome to bring up any relevant issues”

Interviewer self-disclosures and Participant self-disclosures

Appropriate attitude (situational) and clothes (cultural scene)

Rapport may be difficult to achieve between dissimilar persons (adult and child, woman and man)

Passive listening
- “paying attention”

Active listening
- significance of what the interviewee is saying

What am I learning now? What else should I learn, and what can I do to help the participants express themselves?

Supported by nonverbal behaviour (nods, smiles, looks of concern), and by little talk (umm, yes, ohh)

Question Design and Use
Nondirective Questions
grand tour question
mini-tour questions
memorable-tour questions
time-line questions
example questions
experience questions
Photo-elicitation interviews –1) descriptive questions about content, and 2) questions that use the pictures as a point of departure to ask about the processes, activities and motives not literally represented in the image.
native-language questions

Closing Questions
sensitive questions
loose-ends questions

Directive Questions
structural questions
compare-contrast questions
devil´s advocate questions

Interview Schedules and Interview Guides
1) Interview schedule
more formal, structured approach, stresses standardization. All interviewees hear roughly the same questions in the same way (respondent interview, focus group). Increase reliability and credibility of data.

2) Interview guide
more flexible, informal approach. Set of topics and questions that interviewer can ask in different ways for different participants. Interviewer does not need to follow order. He can ask optional questions and follow an unexpected conversational path. Important is goal not the mean.

Participant Observation
Effective Participant Observation
Spontaneous Decision Making
researchers should be able to recognize the emerging evidence, distinguish between relevant and irrelevant events

Being Ethical Person
researcher should commit himself to do no harm and to follow “myths” about their professional ethics
the ethical challenges:
1) to inappropriately claim to have witnessed a scene;
2) to claim direct knowledge of events learned through indirect means;
3) to depict contrived events as spontaneous
researcher should always reflect on his motivation for doing so and carefully monitor the consequences
the best is to be open, warm and honest - “Good guys get better data”

Difference Matters
all various components of identities of both researchers and participants are included in process of fieldwork, and may play a role in interactions (sexism and racism in power relations)
fieldworker should carefully considerate his physical characteristics, social attributes, and cultural capital -) negative or positive effect

The presence
participation is crucial
researcher 1) become skilled at performing in ways that are honoured by group members; and 2) create detailed and relevant descriptions

Tolerance for marginality
Researcher may occur in position between various social groups, psychological states (feelings) or research goals -) dilemmas – i.e. he change from marginal position to more central position in community.
sense of marginality internally (ideology) - negotiation between one world that is considered as “home” and another world (i.e. field)
Essential is to tolerate marginal status.

Requisite Variety/Tolerance for ambiguity
Researcher must have sufficiently complex resources and abilities to successfully engage in the complexity of the field

researchers are bodies in fields, they should use their sensual, visceral and emotional experiences in research ( e.g. Barbara Myerhoff - experiment to experience how the fragility of older people affects their social interaction)
Researchers should treat their bodies well (rest, healthy diet)
voice recognition system
manually manipulate with tape recorder
transcribing machines that use foot pedal controls for moving tape back and forth.
do transcription on our own or hire someone (unfamiliar product)
level of editing (literal transcription X minor editing X removing characteristics of expressive culture and identity)

Transcribing Interview
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