Lecture 40: Interpretation

Welcome back to the NOC course on qualitative research methods my name is Aradhna Malik and Im helping you with this course and we discussed lot of things about qualitative research we talked what it is we have talked about philosophical background the Paradigms

The strategies of inquiry methods of data collection and analysis Now we are going to move towards closure of this course these are the last few sessions So we will start closing up the course you know through these lectures today we will

Talk about interpretation we will talk about what interpretation is How it can be performed or how it can be presented And will also talk about a few new strategies of interpretation so lets see what we have today Interpretation what is interpretation Interpretation is a clarification explication or explanation

Of the meaning of some phenomenon And this is again from this book by Schwandt and from the same book the same dictionary of qualitative research terms we have the reference is the same for both Judgment is a considered deliberate opinion based on good reasons

So these two terms are many times used interchangeably cannot interchangeable but interpretation does lead to judgment so when we interpret something be clarified it in our minds we explain it we describe it in our minds and then we form excuse me a and opinion about

It based on our interpretation of the phenomenon or series of events So these two terms are linked and used very very frequently in both qualitative and quantitative research Characteristics of interpretation: Interpretation is subjective interpretation in qualitative research is subjective it is contextual it is it varies from how the researcher has situated

The phenomenon within a particular context it includes the contextual situatedness of the researcher and the research It includes the biases and the prejudices of the researcher we gone through this many times I am not going to go into detail about it

It also includes the training and wordview of the researcher We have also discuss this point in a previous class so we know how one is trained to carry out the research affects how one interprets what one has the data one has collected and analyzed how has one been

Trained to look at this data how has one been trained to filter out the sense making data from the data that does not make sense at that point in time with reference to that particular context but may be used later on to add to the knowledge that is created

So how does one divide of the data into meaningful data today and data that could be meaningful as a result of this interpretation tomorrow so that all that depends on what one has been trained to look at what one is really looking at in terms of publications you see ultimately

We are all researchers and very finite tangible output of research is Publication It gives us numbers it gives us something that we can hold and touch and measure and see how many people cited it in terms of finding it useful so that is one tangible output

So what how one interprets data could also be influenced by where one intends to publish or how publishable the material the interpretation could be and all of these things we need to be honest about these things all of these things matter to a researcher now we cannot

Be totally removed from what we are studying we cannot be totally disconnected from what we are studying Qualitative research says yes the researched and researched have a relationship and despite this relationship or as a result of this relationship something new something unique emerges or

As result of this relationship the analyses is richer so that is where qualitative research focus this Okay Interpretation in terms of critical ethnography is likely to produce narratives about people in everyday and ordinary situations and in doing so politicize the everyday world illuminating

The structures and processes that shaped individuals lives and their relations with others which is likely to nurture civic transformation So we are you know when we talk about interpretation in terms of critical ethnography ethnography carried out with a purpose to highlight the problems

The sources of oppression the sources of the disconnect between the sources of hierarchy in social situations the sources of one community of people feeling uncomfortable and disadvantage than the other been perceived as privileged or more Elite or advantage class so we know

The significant events the significant phenomena normal life nobody wants to study normal life very few you have questions and nobody very few people want to study normalcy because it doesnt yield anything But we see the significant events significant phenomenal that really attract our attention

And what critical ethnography does is critical ethnography studies why this difference exist we are attracted to it because there is a difference and as researchers we also want to know why we are attracted to it in addition to why does this why does this difference even exist

And why is this difference leading to one group of people feeling disadvantage and one group of people feeling or be perceived as privileged One group of people feeling oppressed and the other be perceived as the oppressors Little bit of revision we had talked about the art of interpretation when we just started

Talking about what qualitative research was and we talked about interpretation being the last Phase or the fifth phase in the process of qualitative research We had talked about how interpretation takes place So lets go through the steps the researcher first creates

A field text consisting of field notes and documents from the field that is indexing and file work Then the writerasinterpreter move from this text to a research text which is notes and interpretation based on the fields text This text is then recreated as a working interpretive

Document that contains the writers initial attempts to make sensor out of what he or she has learned And finally the writer produces the public text that comes to the reader The Reader could be the peers reader could be the general public will talk about how

Policy how social policy is connected to qualitative research in the upcoming lectures will see how qualitative research can help social policy So you know we produce research documents we produce papers we produce monographs we also as qualitative researchers produce documents that can stimulate public action

So we talked about public action research participate sorry we talked about participatory action research so it can also qualitative research can also stimulate it can also provide an impetus to research that is going on or it can provide an impetus to research that

Should be carried out to help solve problems of day to day life by really going into specific situation then seeing what the specific situation are and helping the people there so that is what the ultimate output is So we produce documents that can help the or stimulate these discussions and actions okay

Impact of critical ethnography what does critical ethnography do We talked about Civic transformations: Critical ethnography presents the status of day today life with the stimulus for moral compassion and ground for sound decision making followed by a call to action So when we talk

About ethnography we discussed what ethnography is we describe what is there then we write it up in such a way that it stimulates sound decisions making and also brings to the fore I wont say highlight but brings to the fore the decisions that can be made to help the

Situation and this then followed by call to action so we say okay this is what it is this is what can be and this is how we can do it so that what it is so that the current situation can be improved okay

Critical ethnography also promotes interpretive works that raise public and private consciousness These work help persons collectively work through decision making process They help isolate choices core values utilize expert in local system of knowledge and facilitate deliberative civic discourse and so we reproduce works that can stimulate these decisions for social benefit

Critical ethnography also gives a chance to convey research findings to stakeholders through appropriate narratives It encourages participative discourse among stakeholders and researchers They talk to each other they see whats going on there life is described it its taken back

To them our understanding is defined in light of the stakeholders feel and it promotes the form of textuality that turns citizens into readers and readers into persons who can take democratic action in the world So its on the one hand it provides an analysis of the current day today situation with the

Feelings associated with that situation situated with the observations situated within that context so that the stakeholders can also relate to it they can realize that the researcher is really keen on doing something to help the situation and then it stimulates them

It motivates them to become people can actually do something for their own situation so that is the real goal of critical ethnography okay Writing norms for an ethnographic writing project accuracy is one we need to be absolutely accurate correct Interpretive sufficiency written accounts should possess depth detail

Emotionality nuance and coherence Nonmaleficence we should dont have the intention to hurt anyone right to know making ones moral position public I am on this side because I support your cause because I am I do not support this because Honesty the text must be realistic concrete as to character setting atmosphere and dialogues

It must be clear crisp accurate honest not written with the intention of hurting anyone but written with the intention of just highlighting bringing to the fore situations that can be resolved bringing to the fore problems that can be solved to make everybody is life better

How do you perform ethnography challenges in performance ethnography is how to construct perform and critically analyze performance texts We had talked a little bit about performance text in the past performance text or texts that a written about the performances who performed texts have narrators drama action shifting points of view and make experience

Concrete anchoring it in the here and now It is understood that experience exist only in its representation it does not stand outside the memory of perception So the meanings of facts are always reconstituted in the telling as they are remember that connected to the other events We are talking about remembering

Something we are talking about representing something as it is retained in our memory as we have connected it to our drawing parallels between a computer folder and our memory traces We store whatever we see and hear in our memory with tag into something we already know we

Store it in this folder that we have created in our memory so it is understood that experience exist only in its representation when we talk about experience yes we have a feeling it but then storing the experiences in terms of representing it in terms of you know our

Ability to retrieve it from our memory and replay it for want of a better word So it is stored in our memory and therefore it is influenced by the capacity and the categories the capacity of our memory the categories we have in our brain to hold this information

Etc The meanings of facts are always reconstituted in the telling I see it I hear it I experienced something but when I am telling it it is laden with the emotions are experienced when experiencing it it is laden with what I felt after the experience was over that helped me redefine

What I experienced okay So the meaning of facts are always reconstituted in the telling as they are remembered and connected to other events why would we remember an event only when it would have some significant value for us how many was remember the people we saw while travelling from our place of

State or place of work Many times people just passed by how many time to be remember how many stray dogs crossed our path unless a stray dog comes in front of your car and you have to accidentally break

The car and the dog just smiles at you and walks away wagging its tail probably expressing is gratitude to you for not running over it that would stick out in our memory But stray dogs walk on the roads all the time how many us would remember what breed of dog

Or what kind of stray dog crossed our path when we were going from my home to the office in the morning so all of these things are stored in our memories for a particular reason then and the motion experience you maybe a dog lover but only when you see a stray dog

About to come under your car and you have the opportunity to stop the car bring your car to a screeching halt And then you will see gratitude in the dogs eyes and the dog tail wagging that the emotions and multiplied you experience the different set of emotions at that point of time you

Dont see that you dont feel the same emotions when different types of stray dogs pass by those emotions are then reflected in how you convey that experience The writer narrating the ethnographic account recreates in the minds eye a series of emotional

Moments Life is when retraced through that moment interpreting the passed from the point of view of the present We have discussed this ad nauseam in the context of reflexivity so not going to go into the details go back and forth back and forth back and forth between what we see now what we

Experience in the past with distance ourselves we see things from the perspective of a researcher go back into the situation experience it understand it experience it understand it An aesthetic of color and critical race theory: A feminist or a member of a specific community

Or raised or ethnic group now they be the article by Denzin mentioned a lot of things but I am not going to go into the specific details just trying to be at neutral as possible a member of a specific community race or ethnic group uses art photography music dance poetry

Painting theatre cinema performance texts autobiography narrative storytelling and poetic dramatic language to create critical race consciousness thereby tending the significant events in the history of the specific community or race or ethnic or cultural group into the future So these practices serve to implement critical race theory

We take whatever has been experienced by a specific cultural group and ethnic group racial groups and we replay we use various forms of expression to capture what is being experienced and to capture the significant events that highlight the uniqueness of these experiences

They are not day today experiences they highlight and these experiences then you know sometimes they highlight the significant events in the history or these forms of expression highlight the significant events in the history of the race culture ethnic group etcetera And then we use those experiments captured through the expression of historical events

And we use them as basis for communicating what the specific culture or community or racial group would like things to be like in the future So we say this is what happened this is how we have expressed what happened and this is how we can change it and this

Is how we express it would be would like it to be and we use these different art forms to project these things okay So that is another form of critical ethnography okay Understandings that help create this critical race consciousness and again all of this relates

To interpretation we interpret the past events experienced by a specific community group racial ethnic group through art forms we experience we understand what is going on by a closed observation of the art forms also we also the art forms also tells us what can be done

To change that experience into more pleasant one okay or how would this let community like its these events or its perceptions about itself to be seen in the future okay Now ethics aesthetics political praxis and epistemology are joined every act of representation

Artistic or research is a political and ethical statement this is what it is this is what you would like it to be and here is why Claims to truth and knowledge are assessed in terms of multiple criteria including asking if a text: Interrogates existing cultural sexist

And racist stereotypes especially those connected to family femininity masculinity marriage and intimacy We want to know what is going on different texts are interrogated and this relates to day to day life significant events in day today life It gives primacy to concrete lived

Experience It uses dialogue and ethics of personal responsibility values beauty spirituality and love of others It implements an emancipatory agenda committed to equality freedom social justice and participatory democratic practices And it emphasizes community collective action solidarity and group empowerment Now claims to truth and knowledge are assessed

In terms of whether that text A: captures what is going on B: describes what is going on in terms of why it is wrong or explain what is going on in terms of why it is wrong Why it should be captured by the significant And C: It provides directions for how the

Situation can be changed to enhance to make the lives of those involved better that is a simple oversimplified explanation of what we just read through okay The Other understandings are No topic is Taboo every topic every topic is discussed in detail

It presumes an artist and social researcher is a part of and a spokesperson for a local moral community a community with its own symbolism method mythology and heroic figures It asks that the writerartist draw upon the vernacular folk and popular culture forms of representation including proverbs work songs etcetera

It includes a search for texts speak to disadvantaged and vulnerable or oppresses groups it seeks artists and researchers writers who produce works that speak to and represent the needs of the community It is understood that no single representation or work can speak to

The collective needs of the community Rather local communities are often divided along racial ethnic gender residential age and class lines So we use all of these forms of expression One: no topic is Taboo Two: the social researcher

Is a part of that local community is rooted in the local community is situated there feels the things that the local community is feeling and then understand that the researchers can drop on the various forms of expression that the community is engaging in It includes a

Search for text that that talk about disadvantaged groups it also try to find out the representation of these disadvantages and representations of the needs of the community And it also realizes that no single representation captures the entire gamut of experiences entire

Gamut of the needs of the community but still each text is representation is unique and valuable in itself What do these texts do These texts are expected to be grounded in the distinctive styles rhythms idioms and personal identities of local folk and vernacular culture These as historical

Documents these texts record the histories of injustices experienced by the members of oppressed group They show how members of local group have struggled to find places of dignity and respect in a violent racist sexist civil society These texts are sites of resistance this texts tell you what life is like they capture these

Moments they make them revisitable they are sites of resistance the places where meanings politics and identities a negotiated So the texts the way these texts are written provides an interpretation or they are representations of how these meanings were created and how

These created shared meanings can be used to change the things in the future okay So aesthetics and cinematic practices that inform and shape the narrative of texts documenting these practices So how do the cinematic practices these dramatic performing sorry this performing arts these expressions shape the narrative of texts documenting these practices these

Interpretations The experiments with narrative forms folk ballads etcetera are some of the ways in which the narrative of texts is shaped The use of improvisation miseenscene and montage fill the screen with multiracial images and to manipulate bicultural visual and linguistic codes The use of personal testimonials life

Stories voiceovers and offscreen narration to provide overall narrative unity to texts Celebration of key elements in the culture under study especially the themes of resistance maintenance affirmation and neoindigenism for example finding new ways of respecting old traditions or maintaining old beliefs or mestizaje (Mexican word that means mixing

Ancestories) there by challenging assimilation and melting pot narratives So we celebrate how the culture is evolving so all of these things shape the narratives of texts documenting these practices Then rejection of essentializing approaches to identity and emphasis on a processual gendered

Performance view of self and the location of identity within not outside of systems of cultural and media representation So essentializing approaches to identity are rejected and theres an emphasis on the view self that is constantly evolving Refusal to accept official race relations narrative of the culture which privileges

The ideology of assimilation while contending that the oppressed cultures had the capacity to and tried to resist the oppression It is a given fact that oppressed cultures always have some elements that trying to resist the oppression and all that is reflected in and

Through these expressions and that in turn adds to the interpretation of the significant events That even though this was going on something else was happening and that too is captured so everything needs to be captured in its entirety and presented okay

So alright what purpose do these texts serve aesthetics art performance history culture and politics are thus intertwined for an artful interpretive production cultural heroes heroines mythic pasts and senses of moral community are created It remains to chart the future

To return to the beginning to reimagine the ways in which qualitative inquiry and interpretive ethnography can advance the agendas of radical democratic practice to ask where these practices will take us next So that is how these texts you know we take these and then I go back and then we try and

Imagine how qualitative inquiry and interpretive ethnography can take these experiences and take these agendas of radical democratic practice and ask what and how our interpretations as qualitative researchers will shape these experiences in the future Criteria critical ethnography must meet: it must have written summary of literary craftsmanship

The art of good writing It should present a wellplotted compelling but minimalist narrative This narrative should be based on realistic natural conversation with a focus on memorable recognizable characters which should be located in welldescribed unforgettable scenes So one has to have a good grasp over the writing

The work should present clearly identifiable cultural and political issues including injustice is based on the structures and meanings of race gender class etcetera The work should articulator politics of hope It should criticize how things are and imagine how they could

Be different It should do these things through direct and indirect symbolic rhetorical means and researchers who write the above are expected to be fully immersed in the operations and injustices of that time Researchers need to know whats going on they need to feel the same thing that the members

Of the community at that point in time are feeling they need to be able to understand things from the inside as insiders and from the outsiders researchers and they need to be able to master this dance of going back and forth between the researched and the researcher

And then present an overview of how things are and how they could be So that is what critical ethnographers must do And that is where we will stop today that is as I know I will probably left you with

Some ideas that you may need to explore later but I just wanted to take the discussion regarding interpretation little further and give you food for thought If you remember right in the beginning of the course I told you that I need to leave you my intention is to leave

You with many more questions that you than you came here with I need to leave you I am trying to leave you with a lot of questions lot of stimuli for further thought and genuine quest for knowledge in this area thank you very much for listening

#Lecture #Interpretation

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