Becker Epistemology (Cruz_Boone)

  Qualitative Quantitative
Collect more data than intended    
Collect the amount of data intended    
Historical or Ethnographic Cases    
Laws of Social Interaction    
an “explanation” of an act based on a logic of numerical difference between groups with different traits.


a description which makes sense of as much as possible of what they have seen as they observed: how, what, then—with an explanation of sequence    
Collecting raw data from facebook    
Conducting a survey on facebook    
Generates hypothesis    
Tests the hypothesis    
Empirical inquiry    













Discussion Questions:

The Actor’s Point of View: Accuracy

“Bruno Latour’s rule of method is: we should be as undecided as the actors we study. If they think a conclusion, a finding or a theory is shaky, controversial, or open to question, then we should too and should not regard it as something to be placed in a “black box” never to be opened again. And we should do that even if what we are studying is an historical controversy whose outcome we now know, even though the actors involved at the time couldn’t. Conversely, if the actors involved think the piece of science involved is beyond question, so should we.”

Many assertions are made about interaction with video games.  Do you think all studies that attribute social aggression and violence to video games are as undecided as the actors they study? Do either Blumer idea of attribution error or Latour’s rule of method apply to this example, explain?


The Everyday World: Making Room for the Unanticipated

Quotidia (Schutlz, 1962) is understandings people share or “shared understandings made manifest in act and artifact” (Redfield, 1941).   In the digital age how does Quotidia manifest?  Meaning what artifacts share or communicate what is valuable to people? What are those artifacts?  Who are those people?  How do you judge what is valuable?


Full Description, Thick Description: Watching the Margins

“Ethnographers pride themselves on providing dense, detailed descriptions of social life, the kind Geertz (1974) has taught us to recognize as “thick.” Their pride often implies that the fuller the description, the better, with no limit suggested. At an extreme, ethnographers talking of reproducing the “lived experience” of others.”

If we as ethnographers were trying to determine a “thick” description of dating patterns for kern county youth (10-13) how would data be collected (digital survey of parents, paper reflection of youth, interviews, other)?


Epistemology- is about searching for the “oughts” rather than the “is’s”

Empirical disciplines, in contrast, have concerned themselves with how things work rather than what they ought to be, and settled their questions empirically.

Epistemology has been a similarly negative discipline, mostly devoted to saying what you shouldn’t do if you want your activity to merit the title of science, and to keeping unworthy pretenders from successfully appropriating it. The sociology of science, the empirical descendant of epistemology, gives up trying to decide what should and shouldn’t count as science, and tells what people who claim to be doing science do, how the term is fought over, and what people who win the right to use it can get away with. (Latour 1987)


Thesis: this paper will not be another sermon on how we ought to do science, and what we shouldn’t be doing, and what evils will befall us if we do the forbidden things. Rather, it will talk about how ethnographers have produced credible, believable results, especially those results which have continued to command respect and belief.







Things to consider while doing an interview (Bev)

Talking Points (introduction)

Kinds of interview

  1. Structured
  2. Unstructured
  3. Semi structured

Structured Interviews

  • Asks specific questions and in specific order
  • Keeps respondents on track
  • Scheduled for a particular time, place and time frame

Unstructured Interviews

  • Informal in nature
  • Free range to talk about any aspect related to the broad interest
  • No time limits
  • Can be reciprocal in nature – dialogue

Semi structured

  • Specific questions asked , organized by topic but not asked in sequential order
  • Could be a dialogue format

Question construction

  • Questions should not contain academic jargon or phrases
  • Avoid why questions as they could lead to discomfort
  • Avoid multiple layer questions

Helpful hints

  • Be courteous
  • Practice
  • Carefully select location
  • Be ethical – get permission to record
  • Be sensitive
  • Listen

Things to consider while doing an interview

The 3 P’s

  • Permission
  • Purpose
  • Preparedness

Things to Do:

  • Provide a welcoming environment
  •  Allow the interviewee to speak without interruptions
  • Listen
  • Want to understand their point of view
  • Be neutral
  • Watch your body language

Things not to do:

  • Ask a Yes or No question.
  • Ask more than one question at a time.
  • Say “…and my next question is…”
  • Allow for an awkward pause or dull moment.
  • Be disrespectful to your audience and the person you’re interviewing.
  • Forget who you’re serving.

Model # 1 – the perfect protocol

Interviewer: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. The purpose of the interview is to gain an understanding about how you prepared for your doctoral program of study. For accuracy I would like to record this interview, do I have your permission to do so? Thank you, we will begin.

My name is Beverley Martin and I’m doing an evaluation on student preparation for a doctoral program of study.

Personal Characteristics / Skills / Strengths:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Name 3 strengths that you have as a student and why do you consider these strengths?
  • What would one of your or professor say about you?
  • What would a professor tell me are your strengths?

Academic Experiences/Performance:

  • Why did you major in education?
  • Why did you choose to attend Fresno State University?
  • How did you make the decision to apply to our program? What other programs did you consider?
  • How has your graduate background prepared you for our program?
  • What courses have you enjoyed the most?
  • What courses have been most difficult for you?

Model # 2 – Imperfect protocol

Thanks for agreeing to this interview, let’s begin. (Interviewer turns tape on) – No permission asked for or given.

  • Did you gain any satisfaction from your studies? Yes or no
  • Do you feel your academic record accurately reflects your abilities and potential?
  • Do you feel you have worked to your full potential? What have you done and why do you consider that your full potential?
  • Tell me about Professor Smith and what that you didn’t like about him.(add your own dislike too)
  • Do you have skills and/or experiences that have prepared you for admission to this program?
  • Why should we consider you for our program instead of several other equally qualified candidates?(phone rings, interviewer answers)
  • What will you do if you are not accepted into our program?

Extracurricular Activities:

  • What extracurricular activity has been most satisfying to you?
  • What activities do you enjoy most outside of the classroom?(interrupts answer and interjects own ideas)
  • Do you have any hobbies or outside interests? Yes/no


  • What challenges do you think you might face in the graduate program?
  • What would you say is an area in which you need improvement?
  • What would you change about yourself and why?

Class participation – classmates will critique each model demonstrated using the interview protocol provided and decide if protocol was adhered to or not.


(Becker) The epistemology of qualitative research [Jojo]

Becker, H. S. (1990). The epistemology of qualitative research. S.l.: Howard S. Becker.

Becker poses that in social science it’s unavoidable to compare the epistemological questions of “qualitative-ethnographic” and “quantitative-survey” methods. While both approaches aim to research how society works, it is the method to which is the debate.

Conference organizers posed the question “What’s the epistemology of qualitative research?” The author believes that the similarities of the quantitative and qualitative research are more important and relevant than its differences. Both methods overlap on one another implicitly and explicitly. Continue reading

Bailey CH 11-12

Here is a link to a powerpoint of this text that looks more pleasing to the eye.




Storytelling: Creating stories provides researchers another way to analyze


Conflicting definitions and meanings but Bailey uses the terms

telling a story, narrative analysis and creating a narrative. Also

uses narrative and story as equivalent nouns.

Bailey uses these terms to describe a procedure for crafting the

story from the events in the setting.

Plot: can be quite subtle but revolutionary. Can be action in the smallest

snippet of every day life in a setting just as long as

something transpires, unfolds, occurs, or happens.

Characters: Common goal of field research is to understand a setting from the perspective

of the participants, or characters in the phrasing of creative writing.

Important points:

Know the characters’ appearance and body language, and where they are and

what is around them.

Know the details of characters’ lives-their routine and not so routine behaviors.

Identify inconsistencies and patterns in their talk, appearance and


Examine their speech-not just content but how and when it is said.


Place and time: Essential elements not merely a stage-sometimes there is a

need to reconstruct the story because of lack of chronological


One technique: Flashbacks-withhold one crucial, insightful bit of

information to capture readers’ interest.

Summaries and Scenes: Goal is to put the readers in the setting with members

in “real” time.

Dialogues: emanates from the participants in the setting. Quotations often

richer than paraphrasing.


Point of View: author decides who’s point of few or points of view the story

will be told from. Could be first-person omniscient narrative

approach it depends on the paradigm. For example if you are using a

post-positivist paradigm it might reflect an invisible, objective

narrator, if using the interprative paradigm the author might be

included as a central character comparing perspective with


Themes: What the story is about but is not the plot. In field research there

should be no guessing about why th story was included.

The final story: Should be compelling and provide insight.


Critical events: Moments when things started “spiraling out of

control”, “everything changed after that”, “provide a

window into the larger world”.

Analytic Induction: Two main features: First-development of

conceptual models, including causal ones. Secondemphasizes

the search for negative cases.


Five Steps:

1. Choose phenomena to be explained

2. Propose explanation or model

3. Code data one case at a time to determine consistency with


4. If negative modify hypothesis or model to accommodate new


5. Support and refine conceptual model until universal explanation is


Interpretation: Attempts to answer key questions like why is it important and why

should anyone care


Evaluation Criteria: Qualitative research often challenged on grounds of

validity, reliability and generalizability.

Validity and Trustworthiness: Requires conducting and presnting the research

in a way the reader can believe.

Internal Validity and Credibility: Shown when there is a correspondence

between what is reported and social phenomena being studied.

Requires accurate representation of setting.

External Validity, Generalizability, and Transferability: Determined by reader

One type: naturalistic generalizability



Reliability and Dependability: Reliabillity implies consistency. Questions that

regardless of what they ask elicit the same reponses for interviewees.

Different researchers achieve similar results. To increase reliability

create an audit trail.

Objectivity:, Value Neutrality, and Conformability: Attempt to make sure that

your values, prejudices and beliefs do not influence research. Play the

role of the disinterested Scientist. Use a systematic procedure to

help ensure quality of work.



Member checking: Share with memebers of the setting or colleagues who are

experts .

Peer debriefing and expert review: Possibly committeee memebr of a friend

or experts on research topic.





Reflexivity and objectivity: Researchers must decide to what degree their own

voice will be heard. Know the difference between locating yourself in

the production of knowledge and being completely self-centered.

Participants voice: Original words of participants help stories come alive for

the readers. If edit dialogue be sure to explicitly explain action in

methods section.

Ethics: Using names and locations clearly violates confidentiality if an

agreement has NOT been made. Disguise adequately enough.

Consider long term implications.


1. Bailey suggests you write a one page narrative about somehting that

happened to you as a child and then one paragraph to describe why this

event is important. What does this exercise have to do with the

information presented in this chapter?

2. Bailey states that direct quotes and narrative from participant make the

narrative “richer” do you agree with this? Justify your answer.

3. Who should you have review your research according to Bailey?

4. What techniques should be employed to substantiate that qualitative

research is as valid, reliable and generalizable as quantitative research?


Becker’s The Epistemology of Qualitative Research [Tamar]

The author starts with trying to inform the reader that this paper is not a “sermon” (p.2) instead, “it will talk about how ethnographers have produced credible, believable results, especially those results which have continued to command respect and belief” (p. 2).

Why Do We Think There’s a Difference?

The author tries to describe the differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods. The main difference the author says is that they try to use different ways of reaching generalizations regarding social life. The quantitative research looks for numerical differences between groups that can explain why certain groups are the way they are and what those difference can lead to.

The fieldworker on the other hand tries to understand the individual or individuals involved in certain activities and does not try to prove specific relationships between different things. Another difference between the two methods is the fact that the fieldworker gets a lot more information than the qualitative surveyor whether he/she wants it or not. Fieldworkers have no way of keeping themselves from receiving data and they can get more information which might be important to them if they keep entering everything into field notes.

Many Ethnographies

The author explains that ethnographers or fieldworkers are not all the same and says that he will focus on some of the older methods like participant observation and unstructured interviewing.

The Actor’s Point of View: Accuracy

Ethnographers according to the author try to understand the “actor’s” point of view which means they try to see and understand what the “subject” or the person or people they are observing is feeling and thinking. There is a danger that fieldworkers can fall into when they try to think they know why someone did something instead of observing the person to see exactly why they are doing something.

The Everyday World: Making Room for the Unanticipated

The author explains that we do things based on what we think others will do in reaction to what we do. He writes “this is the notion of the everyday world as the world people actually act in every day, the ordinary world in which the things we are interested in understanding actually go on.” (p. 7)

Full Description, Thick Description: Watching the Margins

Geertz has instilled in ethnographers the idea that they should have a lot of details and full descriptions but the author suggests that instead of including every detail and description, the ethnographer should look for the information that is relevant and important.


The author concludes with the assertion that even though qualitative and quantitative methods are different and the researchers might use different methods, they aren’t really that different. In fact, he writes that the only difference is “they really just work in different situations and ask different questions.


Questions 1: Why do you think the author disagrees with Geertz and says that ethnographers should concentrate on the relevant and important information not everything?

Question 2: Do you agree that qualitative and quantitative methods are not really that different? Why?

Question 3: Do you agree with the author that people do things because of the reaction they expect from others?

Question 4: What stood out to you as the most important concept in this article and why?