Understanding The Value Of Qualitative Research Research Paper


Understanding the Value of Qualitative Research
Qualitative researchers have a number of different research strategies available to them, including case studies, phenomenology, grounded theory and ethnography. Each of these research strategies has its respective strengths and weaknesses, but ethnography in particular represents a special challenge since it seeks to learn more about a group of people from the perspective of an insider. The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the relevant literature to identify and describe and benefits of ethnographical research as a strategy for developing a better understanding concerning the lived experiences of others. A critique of Dr. Loïc Wacquant’s ethnographical work and a discussion concerning its implications for social change are followed by a description concerning the potential impact of research in supporting positive social change through public policy in the paper’s conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Role of the qualitative researcher

The role of the qualitative researcher is to examine, in-depth, a wide array of textual data, various documents, pictures, music and virtually any other non-numeric human artifact to gain a better understanding of the issues of interest and interpret these in ways that can facilitate social and organizational change (Neuman, 2008). The overarching role of ethnographic researchers is that of an “insider” closely observing a group of people from a different culture. In this regard, Neuman (2008) advises that, “Ethnography is an approach to field research that emphasizes providing a very detailed description of a different culture from the viewpoint of an insider of that culture in order to permit a greater understanding” (p. 534). In addition, addressing any ethical issues that may be involved and securing permission to enter a research site are part of the qualitative researcher’s role (Creswell & Creswell, 2018).

Although Neuman (2008) specifies that ethnography is used with groups from other cultures, Creswell (2003) does not make this distinction. For instance, Creswell maintains that, “An ethnography is a description and interpretation of a cultural or social group or system [in which] the researcher examines the group's observable and learned patterns of behavior, customs, and ways of life" (p. 58). In sum, and notwithstanding these slightly different definitions, the role of the ethnographical researcher is to develop an insider perspective of a group of interest. Not surprisingly, though, this qualitative research method in particular has some unique issues that researchers should take into account and these are discussed below.

Discuss the unique issues that researchers should be concerned about in qualitative research

Any qualitative research methodology has some unique issues that researchers must consider, including potential threats to the trustworthiness or credibility of research and the findings that emerge (Asselin, 2009). There are also some unique issues with respect to interpreting qualitative data appropriately and accurately. As Creswell and Creswell (2018) point out, “In the entire qualitative research process, the researchers keep a focus on learning the meaning that the participants hold about the problem or issue, not the meaning that the researchers bring to the research or that writers express in the literature” (9.1).

In addition, in contrast to the longstanding quantitative research tradition, qualitative research remains emergent and dynamic in application. For instance, according to Creswell and Creswell...…in boxing up until that point in that it did not explain phenomena from an externalist perspective but rather detailed the seduction of boxing from the collective disposition of boxers inhabiting a gym. (p. 93)

Impact of Research

Besides boxing enthusiasts, few mainstream Americans likely know about – or care about – the challenges that are faced by young minority members, many of whom probably view the sport as their only alternative to a life as a drug-dealing gang member or flipping burgers. While there are some real “Horatio Alger”-type success stories that include minority members, many privileged white Americans also may not realize that real opportunities are not equally available to everyone, a harsh reality that is underscored by Wacquant’s research.

Discuss how qualitative research and, in particular, ethnographic research, can inform our understanding of unique social worlds

Properly used and interpreted, ethnographical research can produce insightful results that are not available using other research methods or traditions (Wacquant, 2013).


The potential impact of the type of qualitative research conducted by Wacquant can be used to support positive social change through public policy by informing lawmakers concerning the challenges that are faced by demographic segments of society, most especially members of minority groups, that are frequently overlooked when formulating new policy initiatives. Despite impressive gains of employment and social mobility opportunities, far too many Americans remain mired in a situation from which there are few viable options. The research by Wacquant provided some invaluable insights concerning these issues, and helped provide some useful guidance for other qualitative researchers seeking to apply ethnography in meaningful ways.…

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