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Research Methods in Africana Studies | Revised Edition


Serie McDougal III

The revised edition of Research Methods in Africana Studies is a major contribution to the discipline of Africana studies and social science involving people of African descent in general. The first edition was the first of its kind, offering instruction on how to conduct culturally relevant critical research on Africana communities in the American context, in addition to the African diaspora. The revised edition contains a collection of the most widely used theories and paradigms designed for exploring, explaining, and advancing Africana communities through science. The relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of every major method of data collection are explained as they relate to the lived experiences of the Black world. It stands alone as the only textbook that details empirical methods in the service of the collective advancement of Africana peoples.

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Chapter 12: Qualitative Field Research and Data Analysis


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Qualitative Methods

Observation is a widely used term in research methods. Observational techniques refer to the “collection of data through direct visual or auditory experience of behavior” (Monette, Sullivan, & DeJong, 2005, p. 218). Researchers may choose to use qualitative or quantitative observational techniques depending on the nature of what they are investigating. This chapter explores different types of qualitative methods and the circumstances under which each method is most useful. The strengths and weaknesses of each method will also be explained. Finally, we will explore the basic techniques for qualitative data analysis.

Qualitative research data comes in the form of words, narratives, pictures, and descriptions. These kinds of data produced in qualitative research are not as easily reduced to numbers as data that comes from more quantitative methods such as surveys. Therefore, they require unique techniques of data reduction. Neuman (2009) identifies three key features of qualitative methods:

1. Inductive: Qualitative methods usually take an approach to the development of theory from data collection as opposed to more quantitative approaches that begin with theories and test them through data collection. ← 301 | 302 →

2. Interpretivist: They take an epistemological approach that is interpretivist, meaning that this approach to research emphasizes the interpretation or understanding of the social world through the analysis or perspective of cultural insiders or participants in those cultures.

3. A constructionist ontological position:...

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