ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Panel Details
Back to Panel Details

Introduction to Qualitative Interpretive Methods

Marie Østergaard Møller
mol@dps.aau.dk

Aalborg Universitet

Marie Østergaard Møller is Associate Professor at Aalborg University in Denmark.

Her research interests include social and political categories, categorisation, frontline work, welfare state research, classic social theory of solidarity, and systematic qualitative methods.

Recently published articles include:

  • Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 
    An Approach to the Development of Comparative Cross-National Studies of Street-Level Bureaucracy (2019)
  • Qualitative Studies
    Health Care Professionalism without Doctors (2018)
  • Administration and Society
    Welfare State Regimes and Caseworkers’ Problem Explanation (2017)
  • Profession and Professionalism
    She isn’t someone I associate with a pension (2016)
  • Public Management Review
    Prevention at the Front Line: How home nurses, pedagogues, and teachers transform public worry into decisions on special efforts (2015)
  • Critical Policy Studies
    Constructing at-risk target groups (2014)
  • Social Policy and Administration
    Disciplining Disability (2013)

Course Dates and Times

Monday 6 to Friday 10 March 2017
Generally classes are either 09:00-12:30 or 14:00-17:30
15 hours over 5 days

Prerequisite Knowledge

None


Short Outline

This course is intended for PhD students who have just started an interpretive or qualitative research project. The course is primarily aimed at students of political science, sociology, international relations and public administration, but students of other social science disciplines such as public policy and anthropology will also benefit from it. The course is organised around the typical steps of a research process - from how to formulate an interpretive research question to how to present and document analyses. It introduces a broad spectrum of interpretive approaches with a focus in particular on narrative methods and discourse analysis during all sessions of the course. These two approaches provide a good representation of different interpretive strategies, and by understanding their logics and uses students will be able to select a particular research strategy that best fits with their own research question. The course provides students with a working knowledge of interpretive methods, including insights into how they can be used in practice in an interpretive research process.


Long Course Outline

This course provides students with an introduction to different interpretive methods. Students will learn to ‘read’ texts while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about interpretation, narrative, and discourse. During the course we will focus on narrative method, hermeneutics, phenomenology, discourse analysis, deconstruction method and genealogy.

The course is organised with the following six objectives in mind: (1) To examine the scientific criteria of interpretive research and to give students basic training in how to formulate interpretive research questions. (2) To expose students to issues of conceptualisation, theory, research design, and strategies of framing questions and selecting cases. (3) To assist students in how to organise and process material through interpretive coding strategies. (4) To provide students with knowledge about how to choose the best strategy of interpretation for the research question. (5) To introduce students to how to condense and present interpretations and finally (6) how to draw conclusions from interpretive analyses.

The course will cover the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and presenting analyses. Throughout the course we will operate on two interrelated dimensions, one focused on the theoretical approaches to various types of interpretive research, the other focused on the practical techniques of data collection, coding strategies and interpretive strategies of analysis, writing, and presenting findings.

Theoretically, the course considers questions such as the following: What is ‘interpretive’ research? What questions is it best suited for? By what criteria does it meet or fail to meet the standards of scientific evidence? What are the roles of concepts in interpretive research? Can interpretive methods verify hypotheses, or only generate them? Can interpretive research explain social phenomena, or only interpret them? Do interpretive analyses have a small-N problem? In what ways is interpretive research 'grounded'?

Practically, the course considers questions such as the following: What scientific criteria apply for interpretive methods? How do researchers ask the ‘right’ question to the ‘right’ material? What collecting techniques can be used to enhance the quality of the material? What interpretive position should ground the research? What is the unit of analysis? How do researchers organise the material and how do they ‘read’ it? How can they make sense of their interpretations in a transparent, authentic and inclusive way? And how can they draw conclusions from their interpretive analyses?

The course introduces a broad spectrum of interpretive approaches, however the theoretical focus will be on narrative method and discourse analysis. The explicit focus on these two approaches is chosen in order to expose students to methods which put rather different weight on inductive and deductive strategies of interpretation. This is expected to strengthen students’ general knowledge on interpretive methods as well as to give them a solid basis to choose the ‘right’ strategy of interpretation after the course.

After the course students will have a basic knowledge of how to choose between interpretive methods, including insight into hands-on tools that can be used during an interpretive research process. Students will subsequently be able to follow advanced courses in interpretive methods with a more specialised focus on e.g. ethnographic method, grounded theory, narrative method or discourse analysis.

Learning goals:

After the course, the participant should have a basic understanding of how to:

  1. Operationalise an interpretive research question
  2. Select and collect data for interpretation
  3. Organise and process data through interpretive coding strategies
  4. Analyse data using strategies of interpretation
  5. Condense and present interpretations
  6. Draw conclusions from interpretive analyses

Day Topic Details
1 Introducing interpretive methods
  1. Welcome
  2. Interpretation of what? 
Asking the ‘right’ question to the ‘right’ material
  3. Selecting and collecting data suited for 
interpretation
  4. Introduction of written 
student assignment.
2 Interpretive strategies, positions and methods (1) Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis (1)
  1. Narrative methods
  2. What’s your unit of 
analysis? Organising 
your data?
  3. What’s in your data? 
Reading your data.
3 Interpretive strategies, positions and methods (2) Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis (2)
  1. Discourse analysis
  2. How to make sense of it?
  3. Sorting your data using 
interpretive research strategies
4 Condensing and presenting interpretations
  1. Descriptive analyses
  2. Explaining analyses
  3. Chronological analyses
  4. You only know what you (can) show – citations and displays
5 Drawing conclusions from interpretive analyses
  1. Scientific criteria
  2. Documentation
  3. Publication
Day Readings
1

Soss, Joe, 2006: “Talking Our Way to Meaningful Explanations - A Practice Centered View of Interviewing for Interpretive Research”, pp. 127-149 in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Wagener, Hendrik: Chapter 1 and 2, pp. 3-23 in: Meaning in Action – Interpretation and Dialogue in Policy Analysis. New York: M.E. Sharp.

Weiss, Robert S., 1994, “Respondents: Choosing Them and Recruiting Them” in: Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: Free Press. PP. 15-37.

Yanow, Dvora, 2006 “Thinking interpretively: philosophical presuppositions and the human 
 sciences”, 5-26 in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Yanow, Dvora, 2012: “Ways of Knowing”, pp. 24-44 in: Interpretive Research Design. London: Routledge.

2 Schaffer, Frederic Charles, 2006: “Ordinary Language Interviewing”, pp. 150- 160 in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. Mark Bevir, 2006: “How Narratives explain” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 281-290. Thomas, David R, 2006: “A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data”, American Journal of Evaluation vol. 27 no. 2, 237-246. Charmaz, Kathy, 2006: Selected pieces from: Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. London: SAGA publications.
3 Foucault, Michel, 1977: “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” pp. 139-164 in: (Ed. Donald F. Bouchard) Michel Foucault. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. New York: Cornell University Press. Phillips, Nelson & Cynthia Hardy, 2002, “Discourse Analysis – Investigating Processes of Social Construction” in: Qualitative Research Methods Series 50. London: SAGA Publications. PP. 1-87.
4 Miles, Matthew B.,Michael A. Huberman and Johnny Saldana (2014): “Displaying the Data” Chapters 5-10, pp. 105- 272 in: Qualitative Data Analysis. A Methods Sourcebook, 3. edition. London: SAGE.
5 Miles, Matthew B. and Michael A. Huberman, 1984: “Drawing Valid Meaning from Qualitative Data: Toward a Shared Craft”, Educational Researcher, Vol. 13, No. 5, pp. 20-30. Lindekilde, Lasse, “Discourse and Frame Analysis:
In-depth Analysis of Qualitative Data in Social Movement Research” UNDER PUBLICATION in: D. della Porta (ed.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. PP. 1-38. Government of Denmark, 2009: A Common and safe future, www.nyidanmark.dk, pp. 4-30

Software Requirements

None

Hardware Requirements

None

Literature


Charmaz, Kathy, 2006: Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. London: SAGA publications.

Government of Denmark, 2009: A Common and safe future, www.nyidanmark.dk

Dvora Yanow, 2006 “Thinking interpretively: philosophical presuppositions and the human 
sciences,” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 5-27.

Dvora Yanow & Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, 2012: “Ways of Knowing” in: Interpretive Research Design. London: Routledge. PP. 24-44.

Foucault, Michel, 1977: “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” pp. 139-164 in: (Ed. Donald F. Bouchard) Michel Foucault. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. New York: Cornell University Press.

Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, 1983: "Interpretive Analytics," In: Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1983, second edition. PP. 104-125.

Laclau, Ernesto and Chantal Mouffe, 2014: “Beyond the Positivity of the Social: Antagonisms and Hegemony”, Chapter 3, pp. 79-131 in: Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso.

Lindekilde, Lasse, “Discourse and Frame Analysis:
 In-depth Analysis of Qualitative Data in Social Movement Research” UNDER PUBLICATION in: D. della Porta (ed.) Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press. PP. 1-38.

Mark Bevir, 2006: “How Narratives explain” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 281-290.

Miles, Matthew B.,Michael A. Huberman and Johnny Saldana (2014): “Displaying the Data” Chapters 5-10, pp. 105- 272 in: Qualitative Data Analysis. A Methods Sourcebook, 3. edition. London: SAGE.

Fairclough, Norman, 2003, “Social analysis, discourse analysis, text analysis” pp. 19-61 & “Discourses and representations” pp. 121-156 in: Analyzing Discourse. Textual analysis of social research. London: Routledge.

Phillips, Nelson & Cynthia Hardy, 2002, “Discourse Analysis – Investigating Processes of Social Construction” in: Qualitative Research Methods Series 50. London: SAGA Publications. PP. 1-87.

Riessman, Catherine Kohler, 1993, “Narrative Analysis” in: Qualitative Research Methods Series 30. London: SAGA Publications. PP. 1-70.

Schaffer, Frederic Charles, 2005, “Why don’t Political Scientist Coin More New Terms?” in: Committee on Concepts and Methods, Working Paper Series. PP. 1-34.

Schaffer, Frederic Charles, 2006, “Ordinary Language Interviewing”, Chapter 7 in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 150-160.

Soss, Joe, 2006, “Talking Our Way to Meaningful Explanations - A Practice Centered View of Interviewing for Interpretive Research” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 127-149.

Thomas, David R, 2006: “A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data”, American Journal of Evaluation vol. 27 no. 2, 237-246.

Wagener, Hendrik: Chapter 1 and 2, pp. 3-23 in: Meaning in Action – Interpretation and Dialogue in Policy Analysis. New York: M.E. Sharp.

Weiss, Robert S., 1994, “Respondents: Choosing Them and Recruiting Them” in: Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: Free Press. PP. 15-37.

Recommended Courses to Cover After this One

<p>Summer School:</p> <ul> <li>Analysing Discourse</li> <li>Expert Interviews for Qualitative Data Generation</li> <li>Focus Groups for Qualitative Data Generation</li> <li>Ethnography Strategies of Interpretive/Qualitative Political Research</li> <li>Qualitative Data Analysis: Methods and Procedures</li> </ul> <p>Winter School:</p> <ul> <li>Analysing Political Language</li> <li>Advanced Qualitative Data Analysis</li> <li>Knowing and the Known: The Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences</li> </ul>


Additional Information

Disclaimer

This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed in due time.

Note from the Academic Conveners

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, contact the instructor before registering.