Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ontology <-> Derrida <-> Hauntology

In Spectres of Marx, French philosopher Jacques Derrida coined the term “hauntology” as a playful homonym for “ontology” (Derrida, 1994). According to Derrida, ‘ghosts haunt places [discourses, ideologies, etc.] that exist without them; they return to where they have been excluded from’ (2000, p. 152, in Kenway, Bullen, Fahey & Robb, 2006). Hauntology as a mode of inquiry (i.e., a research method) identifies what the "spectre"  privileges, what it seeks to produce and the politics it favours. Hauntology also asks fundamental questions about how these “ghosts” attend to the responsibilities to the past, future and present.  To do so, it traces voices, epistemologies, and temporalities that haunt history and awareness, where the past, present, and future come together” (Tavin, p. 101). The domain of the spectral belongs to what haunts and returns, something from the past as yet unfulfilled or unfinished, yet the returning spectre points to the future (Peim, 2005, p. 74).

"Doing" hauntology as research involves asking questions that involve past, present and future, unpacking discourses, and looking to how "spectral" phenomena shape practices, believes, and institutionalized practices. Kenway et al. (2006) present a lengthy hauntological study (see link) that is essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing this form of research.

Further reading:

Derrida, J. (1994). Spectres of Marx: The state of the debt, the work of mourning, and the New International. London: Routledge.
Kenway J., Bullen E., Fahey J. & Robb S. (2006) Haunting the Knowledge Economy. New York: Routledge.
Peim, N. (2005). Spectral bodies: Derrida and the philosophy of the photograph as historical document. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 39(1), 67-84.
Tavin, K. (2005). Hauntological shifts: Fear and loathing of popular (visual) culture. Studies in Art Education, 46(2), 101-117.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Case Studies...not what you think

The term "case study" has multiple meanings.

In faculties of business, a case study actually refers to something else: "The case method of analysis involves studying actual business situations, written as an in-depth presentation of a company, its market, and its strategic decisions, in order to improve a manager's or a student's problem-solving ability. Cases typically investigate a contemporary issue in a real-life context. There are multiple issues to consider and many 'correct' or viable alternatives to solve the case issues are presented." (Encyclopedia of Management, 4th ed., cited in Queen's U Library entry titled "Case Study"). In education, the Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership publishes case studies of this sort: and they are very specific about how to structure them. As teaching tools, case studies should present a situation, but leave the reader with an ambiguous, open-ended solution to formulate.

In the definition above, the case study is a teaching tool, and not necessarily a research method.

Rather than an open-ended teaching tool, a research case study seeks to reconstruct a particular event or situation (bounded by time), and analyze it using the researcher's chosen theoretical and conceptual frameworks.

A case study (in research) is “an in-depth, multifaceted investigation, using qualitative research methods, of a single social phenomenon. The study is conducted in great detail and often relies on the use of several data sources” (Orum et al. 1991: 2). They can be exploratory, explanatory, or descriptive. Various forms of case studies are recognized, for example:
Image from Babak Farshchian, IT3010 Lecture 8 Case Study Research 

The case study research design yields several fundamental advantages for complex research:

  1. Case studies provide information from a number of sources over a period of time, resulting in a holistic study of complex actions associated with policy formulation, including webs of social processes and political interaction. As such, researchers constructing case studies “consider not only the voices of actors of focal concern, but also the perspectives and actions of other relevant groups and the interactions among them” (Snow & Anderson 1991: 149). 
  2. Case studies examine processes within a specific context, draw on multiple sources of information, and relate a story, usually in a chronological order. Moreover, they are ideal for revealing “information patterns” that might not appear in official documentation (Sjoberg, Williams, Vaughan & Sjoberg 1991). Case studies allow for analysis of how or why particular phenomena occur though rich, textured descriptions of social or infrastructural processes (Scanlon 1997), such as the focus for this research. 
  3. Case studies lend themselves to theory-generation and forming generalizations by suggesting new interpretations and concepts or reexamining existing concepts and interpretations in major and innovative ways (Yin 2013). Because of the complex nature of interpreting policy processes, and the complexity of the conceptual framework, a case study allows the researcher to further refine and articulate the theory which this study incorporates. 
  4. Triangulation of a variety of data strengthens the validity of case studies (Orum et al. 1991). The use of multiple sources of evidence contributes to construct and context validity, and provides checks and balances that protect the inquiry from participant bias related to reliance on single sources. 

References & further reading

Orum, A.M., Feagin, J.R. & Sjoberg, G. (1991). “Introduction: The nature of the case study.” In J.R. Feagin, A.M. Orum, & G. Sjoberg (Eds.) A Case For the Case Study, 1-16. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Scanlon, E. (1997). Suggestions for case study research methods. Retrieved from

Sjoberg, G., Williams, N., Vaughan, T.R. & Sjoberg, A. (1991). “The case study approach in social research: Basic methodological issues.” In J.R. Feagin, A.M. Orum & G. Sjoberg (Eds.) A case for the case study, 27-79. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Snow, D.A. & Anderson, L. (1991). “Researching the homeless: The characteristic features and virtues of the case study.” In J.R. Feagin, A.M. Orum & G. Sjoberg (Eds.). A case for the case study, 148-173. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Yin, R.K. (2013). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd Ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Research Paradigms

A research paradigm reflects a researcher's epistemological position. The paradigm will shape the research question, as well as the methods of data collection and analysis the researcher will select.

Brief Roundup of Major Paradigms

Positivist - Assumes that "objective" investigation of reality can yield a correct "answer" to a research question through hypotheses-testing; often uses quantitative methods to collect and analyze data; accepts scientific method as appropriate for social sciences and human phenomena.

Post-positivist - Rejects positivist stance, and acknowledges that the researcher, participants, theories used, influence what is observed. The researcher still attempts to capture objective reality, but is aware of the role of bias in that process.

Constructivist or Interpretive - The researcher recognizes that individuals construct or interpret reality, resulting in multiple meanings. In other words, when it  comes to human phenomena, truth or reality are shaped by individuals, and do not exist "objectively" in the real world.

Critical Ideological or Transformative - Recognizes the political character of research, especially with the ideal of social or socio-political transformation that research participants can undertake. Often associated with participatory research methods.

Pragmatic - Concerns with research yielding practical, usable findings such as those associated wit evidence-based movements. Pragmatism views the mixing of quantitative and qualitative data in a single study not only as legitimate, but in some cases necessary.

Supercomplexity - A complex world is one in which we are assailed by more facts, data, evidence than people can easily handle within the frameworks in which we have our being; by contrast, a supercomplex world is one in which the very frameworks by which people orient themselves to the world are contested (Barnett, 2000). In this paradigm, the world is fragile that that fragility is brought on by the way that people understand the world, themselves and security about ways of being and acting in the world. Corresponding supercomplexity research acknowledges all of this, and accounts for a complex subject whose views might be in constant flux in a rapidly shifting world. Thus, supercomplexity research may result in uncovering  further problematic aspects of the phenomenon studied, rather than a tidy solution.

For Further reading:

Barnett, R. (2000). University knowledge in an age of supercomplexity. Higher education, 40(4), 409-422.

Gray, D. E. (2013). Doing research in the real world. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ponterotto, J. G. (2005). Qualitative research in counseling psychology: A primer on research paradigms and philosophy of science. Journal of counseling psychology, 52(2), 126.

 Schwandt, Thomas A. (1994). Constructivist, interpretivist approaches to human inquiry. In Denzin, Norman K. (Ed); Lincoln, Yvonna S. (Ed), (1994). Handbook of qualitative research, (pp. 118-137). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Arts Informed Research with Photos

Wang, S., Morrel-Samuels, S., Hutchison, P.M., Bell, L. and Pestronk, R.M. (2004). Flint photovoice: Community building among youths, adults, and policymakers. American Journal of Public Health, 94(6), 911-13.

Wang, C. and Burris, M.A.( 1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education Behaviour, 24(3), 369-387.

Warren, S. (2005). Photography and voice in critical qualitative management research. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 8(6), 861-882.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mixed Methods

Creswell (2003) identifies 3 types of mixed methodologies:

Sequential procedures, in which the researcher seeks to elaborate on or expand the findings of one method with another method.

Concurrent procedures, in which the researcher converges quantitative and qualitative data at the same time in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the research problem.

Traansformative procedures, in which the researcher uses a theoretical lens as an overarching perspective within a design that contains both quantitative and qualitative data.

Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Linguistic analysis tool: AntConc

In some of my work, I found AntConc linguistic analysis software really useful - and it happens to be free and easy to use as well. By creating a single file of the corpus of data and feeding it into AntConc, the software helps with collocation analysis (strings or groups of words that reoccur) and also with frequencies of terms. Some of these things could go un-noticed by the research; but it's also a good tool to triangulate interpretive analysis.

For an example of AntConc's use within a broader qualitative analysis, see:

Pinto, L.E. (2013). When politics trump evidence: Financial literacy education narratives following the global financial crisis. Journal of Education Policy, 28(1), 95-120.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Historical, Archival and Policy Research

In addition to the videos below that describe Laura Pinto's experience in obtaining and working with archival policy artefacts. Other (related) readings include:

Dillabough, J-A. (2008) Exploring Historicity and Temporality in Social Science Methodology: A Case for Analytical and Methodological Justice. In K. Gallagher (Ed.) The Methodological Dilemma: Creative, Critical, and Collaborative Approaches to Qualitative Research. London and New York: Routledge.

Hodder, I. (2000). Chapter 26: The Interpretation of Documents and Material Culture. In Y.S. N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds). Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc., pp. 703-715.

Bacchi, C. (2000). Policy as Discourse: what does it mean? where does it get us? Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education, 21(1), 45-58. 

To see how these kinds of artefacts can be used, see:
Pinto, L.E. (2013). When politics trump evidence: Financial literacy education narratives following the global financial crisis. Journal of Education Policy, 28(1), 95-120.