- Class Number 2881
- Term Code 3030
- Class Info
- Unit Value 12 units
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- Dr Baptiste Brossard
- Dr Baptiste Brossard
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 24/02/2020
- Class End Date 05/06/2020
- Census Date 08/05/2020
- Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
The sociological imagination involves paying attention to the mundane aspects of everyday life while simultaneously reflecting theoretically on these aspects. This course will provide training in the main methods used by sociologists: interviews, observations, archives/document analysis and statistics. As advanced training in methodology for Honours students, the course also emphasises the relationship between research practices and theoretical and epistemological issues. The guiding principle of the course is reflexivity - ongoing reflection on the conditions under which any knowledge is produced.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- identify and explain key methodological issues in sociological research;
- select and carry out a range of social research methods; and
- develop an informed argument about methodological processes in social research.
Blommaert, Jan and Chris Bulcaen. 2000. "Critical Discourse Analysis". Annual Review of Anthropology 29(1): 447-466
Brossard, Baptiste. 2018 (forthcoming). "Situating Words". Sociological Focus.
Burawoy, Michael. 1998. "The Extended Case Method", Sociological Theory, 16(1): 4-33
Chalmers, Alan. 1976. What is this Thing Called Science? Queensland University Press and Open University Press
Crawley Sara L. 2002. "'They Still Don't Understand Why I Hate Wearing Dresses!' An Autoethnographic Rant on Dresses, Boats, and Butchness". Cultural Studies ? Critical Methodologies 2(1): 69-92
Desmond, Matthew. 2014. “Relational Ethnography.” Theory and Society 43: 547-579
Glaser, Barney & Anselm Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago, Aldine.
Gilding, Michael. 2010. "Motives of the Rich and Powerful in Doing Interviews with Social Scientists", International Sociology 25(6): 755-777
Mahi, Lara. 2015. "The Sanitization of Criminal Justice? The Use of Illness in Criminal Trials". French Journal of Sociology, 56(4): 697-733
Marcus, George E. 1995. "Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of MultiSited Ethnography", Annual Review of Anthropology 24(1): 95-117
Ponterotto, Joseph G. 2006. "Brief Note on the Origins, Evolution, and Meaning of the Qualitative Research Concept Thick Description". The Qualitative Report 11(3): 538-549
Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course: written feedback on each assessment, individual meetings by appointment and collective feedback during class.
ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
The information provided is a preliminary Class Outline. A finalised version will be available on Wattle and will be accessible after enrolling in this course. All updates, changes and further information will be uploaded on the course Wattle site and will not be updated on Programs and Courses throughout the semester. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the Course Convenor.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||How to Choose a Method This course will be dedicated to some of the first questions one should ask when starting a research. What method should I use? Do I need a very specific research question before collecting the data? How to make such choice? What are the theoretical implications of this choice? What is the impact of the chosen method on the analysis? We will address these questions both in talking about the students' projects and in discussing fictive cases. In the second hour, we will welcome a special guest: Anesh Nair, Human Ethics Manager at the ANU will present the bases of ethics application. We will take this as an opportunity to discuss the ethical implications of methodology in social sciences|
|2||Understanding One's Relation to the Research Topic ?Currently, method specialists and philosophers of science do not consider that scientists should hide their personal involvement into their research, as a "bias" (a word to avoid, or use with care), but that it is more a condition to achieve some form of methodological rigor. However, understanding one's relation to a research topic requires, first, to question one's own social trajectory and representation of the world. Why me, am I choosing this particular topic, and producing this particular interpretation of this data? Second, this questioning should lead to improve the overall quality of the research: how can my awareness of my relation to my research topic enlighten my analysis? This session will be a discussion on the different ways to develop a reflexive reasoning and to write down these reflections.|
|3||Observation Practice Observation is probably the most difficult method to master, precisely because it seems easy: you just have to go somewhere and take some notes on what you see, isn't it? In fact, knowing what to observe, what to write, and how to draw results on this, is quite a hard exercise. This is why this session will be organized as a workshop, where we will practice this technique collectively.|
|4||Describing and Analysing after the Observation ?Once you have made observations and taken some notes, what to do with these notes? How to relate what you saw? How to describe 'realistically' what you observed? This session will take the form of a writing group where we address description writing skills and discuss how to develop analyses out of observation.|
|5||Conducting Interviews The way in which sociologists interview people significantly shapes their results. Indeed, these results depend on their ability to obtain this or that type of discourse. In other words, with the same topic and the same participants, a research may lead to very different conclusions. This is why it is necessary to reflect on how our relational skills and approach to our research topic orient our interaction with participants, and to theorize this relation. This session will consequently deal both with the practical techniques of interviewing and the theoretical implications of these techniques.|
|6||Analyzing Interviews ?One you have done your interview(s), what to do with this? A basic way to proceed is thematic analysis, which consists of identifying the recurrent topics in the participants' discourses and of looking for what these topics tell about the social reality under study. However, some other options exist, such as process analysis or indepth case studies. There are also different ways of coding, as well as different ways of presenting interviews along with the results of the research. After an overview of these various possibilities, we will work collectively on some concrete examples.|
|7||Finding Relevant Statistics The goal of this week is to convince the students that even if they hate statistics, feel unable to do anything implying numbers and designed a qualitative methodology project to avoid such problems, there is still some important things to be learnt from statistics in any research project. For instance, when you interview someone and want to know what their education level is, this data is relevant only if you know in what part of the population this information situates them; which requires knowing statistics about education levels in this or that country, for this or that generation. We will consequently review all the advantages that can be drawn from using sporadically some statistics in a qualitative project.||Assessment 1 due|
|8||Making Relevant Stats and Graphs We are not finished with numbers. But this week, we will focus on the statistics and graphs that the researcher can make by themselves during a qualitative methodology research project. In the first hour, we will do an overview of the different possibilities, from quantifying observations to generating graphs based on interviews. In the second hour, we will address the use of questionnaires in a qualitative fieldwork: when is it relevant to make the participants to fulfill a questionnaire?|
|9||Finding Archives and Documents This session will take place in the ANU Archives centre, where Sarah Lethbridge (Senior Archivist) will prepare us a visit of the archives and some reflections on the potential of working with archives for sociologist. Then, we will open a box and try together some exploration.||Assessment 2 due|
|10||Analyzing Documents ?"Documents" includes a vast panel of objects, from historical archives to online websites. Many research topics involve observing the production of numerous documents and understanding the content of these documents. What to do with these data? This week's session will be centered around document analysis. We will reflect collectively on a series of documents (to be selected), especially focusing on how the various methods of analysis influence the findings produced.|
|11||Online Ethnography Nowadays, a huge part of social relations is happening online. Consequently, we need to reflect both on what digital technologies change in social life and on how to use the internet during a sociological research. The first hour of this session will be dedicated to qualitative methods online, and I will give some examples drawn from my own fieldwork study in Francophone forums dealing with self-injury. The second hour will be animated by our special guest Rob Ackland, who is the specialist, in our School of Sociology, of online worlds and methods. He will present the bases of online surveys and network analysis in very simple ways, that can be used in a Honours thesis.|
|12||Conclusion At the end of the semester, you should be ready to jump into your research with a quite advanced knowledge of methodology. You are not anymore in that stage when you learnt by heart the distinction between nondirective, semidirective and directive interviews. You are at that stage where you can reflect on the theoretical implications of the methods you use, and develop a nuanced account of your methodological path. This last session will be devoted to some last advice regarding the Honours thesis. It will take the form of a roundtable, where each student brings their own questions regarding their research.||Assessment 3 due|
|Assessment task||Value||Learning Outcomes|
|Observation Analysis||20 %||1, 3|
|Interview Analysis||25 %||1, 3|
|Statistics and Archives Analysis||25 %||1, 2, 3|
|Research Essay||30 %||1, 2, 3|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
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Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3
Assessment 1 is a 1000 words observation analysis. Students will have to conduct an observation and write an analytical account of this observation. (LO1 and 3)
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3
Assessment 2 is a 1500 words interview analysis. Students will have to conduct an interview and write an analysis of the social situation of the interviewee as well as of the interviewing situation. (LO1 and 3)
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3
Statistics and Archives Analysis
Assessment 3 is a 1500 words statistics and archives analysis. Students will have to find statistics and archives that are relevant to their research project and explain why. (LO1, 2 and 3)
Assessment Task 4
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3
Assessment 4 is a 2000 words research essay, where the students will have to explain how and why they selected a research method for their thesis. (LO1, 2 and 3)
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Mental Health; Sociological Theory; Qualitative Methods; Utopian Studies
Dr Baptiste Brossard