By methods@manchester and Social Anthropology, University of Manchester 6th April 2011
This event was intended to provide an introduction to ethnographic methods, as employed by anthropologists, for those who are interested in how these methods might be used in applied settings whether that is in business, government or development contexts. It was attended by a cross section of students from third year undergraduates in anthropology to PhD students from across the faculty including the Manchester Business School, the School of Environment and Development and the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures. This wide array of academic backgrounds shows that there is an interest in applying ethnographic methods in a variety of contexts across the disciplines and made for a day of interesting discussions. What was interesting to me is that although ethnography means different things in different contexts there was a high level of common ground about how it can add value to a research project.
As well as myself and Dr Keir Martin from Social Anthropology the day was facilitated by inputs from Dr Lucy Pickering who teaches at the University of Glasgow and has done applied research on drug users’ access to medical services; Martine Zeuthen and Marie-Louise Hoilund-Carlsen from Integrity Research Consultancy who are professional anthropologists who specialise in doing research in applied contexts and Dr Damian O’ Doherty from the Manchester Business School who is working on an ethnographic study of Manchester Airport. All these experts provided inputs on different aspects of using ethnographic methods in applied contexts while students worked on developing example research projects. Issues discussed during the day included different disciplinary understandings of ethnography, maintaining a critical distance and designing a project with the users in mind whilst retaining academic integrity. Ethical issues took centre stage in the afternoon as questions were raised about obtaining consent, insider ethnography, protecting the interest of both participants and users and how to deal with illegal activity taking place during fieldwork. The ethics of online ethnography were also raised and debated.
The methods@manchester blog is a space to reflect on the events and activities taking place, or on other methods related issues. The m@m team welcome your comments and reflections on the posts below.
A panel discussion with Richard Wilkinson (Nottingham and UCL), Andrew Oswald (Warwick), David Hulme (Manchester), Stephen Stansfeld (QMUL) and Stephen Hicks (ONS), chaired by Mark Easton.
By methods@manchester and the Office for National Statistics. Monday 4 April 2011, 5.00 – 6.30pm
How much would you sell your spouse for? This would be a tough question for (most) people. Asking people directly about how happy they are is a similar tough question as weighing up the different dimensions and concepts that make people happy is difficult to do. Instead of directly asking people how happy they are, Andrew Oswald and colleagues have developed a battery of questions that ask people:
- “How satisfied are you with your life nowadays?”
- “How happy did you feel yesterday?”
- “How anxious were you yesterday?”
- “To what extent do you feel things you do in your life are worthwhile?”
These questions will be asked in the large sample of around 200,000 people in the Integrated Household Survey.
There was some debate amongst the panel discussion members and the audience about how useful these and other survey questions on well-being are. Richard Wilkinson suggested that cultural differences in the meaning of these questions prevent international comparisons of such subjective well-being questions. Some members of the audience emphasised how well-being varies greatly from person to person, suggesting it is futile to measure well-being at a national or regional level.
However there was also consensus on the idea that GDP and economic growth are poor measures of national well-being. Being poor is not the same as being miserable. Poor people in poor and rich countries enjoy their lives in culturally relevant ways and many are happy. There was also consensus on the need to take account of objective indicators as well as subjective measures of well-being. Everyone agreed that a lot more work needs to be done on what can improve well-being. This suggests that measuring it well in the first place is pretty important.
This was the first of six seminars funded under the ESRC seminar series. The meeting was fully booked with well over 50 people attending. The aim of this first seminar was to explore the contemporary framing of how we think about the relationship between intellectual activity, academic institutions, and the public good.
The European Social Survey
January 19, 2011
Professor Jaak Billiet introduced the European Social Survey (ESS). It is a Rolls-Royce survey that has been running since 2002. It now contains 26 different countries and receives major funding from the EU. Surveys are conducted every two years.
Tammy Krause, Faculty of Law, has just run an excellent workshop on ethical issues when doing sensitive interviewing. She drew on her extensive research experience of working with crack-addicted prostitutes and victims’ family members whose loved one was murdered.
An introduction to online resources for the analysis of qualitative data: Graham Gibbs, University of Huddersfield
Graham Gibbs, (along with colleagues at Surrey, Greenwich and Huddersfield) has developed extensive online resources to help those who want to use computer assisted analysis of qualitative data. His workshops held on Nov 29 and repeated on December 6 introduce materials from the CAQDAS site at the University of Surrey and for his own extensive On-line QDA site at the University of Huddersfield: http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/index.php
On Wednesday November 10th we had an excellent day on multilevel modelling. Harvey Goldstein, the ‘father of multilevel modelling’ in the UK, gave an introductory talk that provided a historical context for the methods and also an indication of future developments. At the end of the day he introduced the resources available on-line from The Centre for Multilevel Modelling (CMM) at the University of Bristol.
Timescapes is an ESRC-funded resource to collect, archive and disseminate qualitative longitudinal data which explores how personal and family relationships develop and change over time. Its focus is on relationships with significant others: parents, grandparents, siblings, children, partners, friends and lovers, using the method of ‘walking alongside’ people to document their changing relationships.
This was the first big M@M event since I became involved as deputy director, so I was anxious to find out whether the event would be a success. The first thing I noticed was that the event was well attended especially by research students. It was great to meet many of you and get to hear something of your research projects. It was also good to meet those who came from Lancaster and Liverpool to join us for the day. I know everyone talks about the importance of networking, but its in the informal spaces of events like this, where you meet people you weren’t necessarily looking to meet and conversations get started that can be the beginings of great research ideas or lead to the solutions to well worn problems.