And yet, I think there is another set we tend not to explicate, simply going along with how things are done. The post is inspired by an academic promotion procedure in which a portfolio of qualitative work was reviewed and a number of criticisms were made with regard to it.
A few of them, in my view, were made without deeper reflection on what was actually proposed and criticised. The informants were approached soon after their attempt and were identified by the usual demographics such as gender, age, class (with education level used as proxy).
I didn’t write this, because I could equally well have written something like this: Shaking voice, soft-spoken, joked a couple of times, told me of suffering caused by his son.
Or perhaps I should have written about one of my informants as the one who asked whether I masturbated.
Still, we write these things mostly without giving it another thought, we just follow the practice, I think.
But as I was writing my ‘homework chapter’, I was also very conscious of creating categories for my informants, which they didn’t necessarily inhabit, at least during the interview.The main problem is of course that the assumptions I refer to above were probably tacit, hidden, given no reflection, we make them daily.The solution – much more of Graham Scambler’s meta-reflection, also outside sociology.The author of the research did not give two pieces of information: the informants’ medical history and their diagnosis (although it was not explicitly stated, I understood it as the diagnosis pertaining to the F section of the ICD-10).There was no explanation for the requirement, no argument, it simply was presented as a major flaw of the work.I was making them into people that ‘we’, academics, consider important.And I did actually consider writing things such as: Appeared very unhappy, cried during the interview, never smiled, says his daughter loves him.The question came out of the blue and I was so taken aback that just about half the interview was gone before I did.Or perhaps I should describe the person by what I did?Today I want to write about assumptions we make in our research.As we describe our research, particularly its methodology, we often make a series of assumptions underlying it.