Tag Archive | Becker

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.







(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

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?