Workshop and discussion exercises

Practice with these exercises to prepare for your seminars and wider research.

  1. This exercise asks you to think further about the different research strategies used by Moerman and Douglas:
    (a) How far do (i) Moerman and (ii) Douglas make use of the five points listed towards the end of the chapter to help them theorise about data? (These were chronology, context, comparison, implications and lateral thinking.)
    (b) Imagine that you were carrying out a study of a small group already known to you (e.g. a family, a friendship group or club). How could you use either Moerman’s or Douglas’s ideas to help you work out a research problem and to theorise about your data?
    (c) In what respects is Moerman’s or Douglas’s work constructionist or naturalistic? How far would either’s work be different if it used a different model?
  2. This exercise encourages you to think further about the different ways of conceiving family life. Imagine that you wish to do an observational study of the family. Now consider the following questions:
    (a) What are the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining access to the family household?
    (b) In what ways may families be studied outside the household setting? What methodology might you use and what questions could you ask?
    (c) What might observation tell you about the ‘family’ in each of the following settings: law courts, doctor–patient consultations, television soap operas?
    (d) Either do a study of one of these settings or write hypothetically about all three. What does it mean to say that you are studying the ‘family’ (i.e. within inverted commas)?