Chapter 15: The Relevance of Qualitative Research

This exercise gives you an opportunity to think through the various ways social scientists have answered Becker’s question: ‘Whose side are we on?’ You are asked to imagine that research funding is available for whatever topic and research design you prefer.

  1. Suggest a research topic and outline a methodology using one or more of the methods set out in Chapters 7–13.
  2. Justify the topic and methodology from the point of view of: (a) pure scholarship and (b) the partisan.
  3. Now select any one article which reports research findings in a social science journal. Which of the positions referred to in question 2 does it adopt?
  4. Set out how this position might be criticized from the point of view of (a) the other position and (b) your own views of the relevance of social science research.

This exercise offers you an opportunity to address the practical relevance of field research in the context of the conversation analysis and discourse analysis skills you learned in Chapter 11. It is based on Extract 14.2.

  1. Using any of the concepts mentioned in Chapter 11, attempt a further analysis of Extract 14.2.
  2. What does your analysis show that is different from or adds to the analysis given above?
  3. Imagine you are talking to child protection officers about their work. What kinds of practical implications could you suggest in relation to how they communicate with callers?
  4. Imagine you are talking to people who suspect child abuse. What kinds of practical implications could your analysis have for them?