Common Qualitative Methods in Political Analysis

UNIT 3:
Common Qualitative Methods
in Political Analysis
POLI 497 ♦ Methods in Political Science ♦ Dr. JNY ♦ UDC ♦ Fall 2020
Qualitative Methods
The word qualitative implies an emphasis on the qualities of entities and on processes and
meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured [if measured at all] in terms of
quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency. Qualitative researchers stress the socially
constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is
studied, and the situational constraints that shape inquiry. Such researchers emphasize the
value-laden nature of inquiry. They seek answers to questions that stress how social
experience is created and given meaning. In contrast, quantitative studies emphasize the
measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables, not processes.
 Denzin, Norman. K. and Yvonna S. Lincoln. “Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research.” In The
Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Norman. K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. 3rd edition. (Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005), p. 10.
TYPES OF
QUALITATIVE
METHODS
That we explored throughout Unit 3 …
Conceptual Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Philosophical Design”
which is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
ï‚š What are the ethical ramifications for eliminating the Affordable Care Act?
ï‚š How does race operate as a political category as opposed to simply a category of identity?
ï‚š What does democracy mean for a people living under the conditions of civil war, mass
incarceration, genocide, etc.?
READING:
CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS
ï‚š QUESTION ASKED: Why is white backlash an
expected reaction to black resistance?
(paraphrased from abstract, p. 311)
 EXEMPLAR OF BLACK RESISTANCE → BLM movement in
2015, during President Barack Obama’s second term
 SYSTEM MAINTAINING WHITE BACKLASH → policing
ï‚š CONCEPTS ANALYZED (i.e. terms developed in
relation to specific event):
 Herrenvolk democracy → term used by Joel Olson
applied to Black Lives Matter movement in 2015
 Abolition democracy → term by W.E.B. Du Bois
adopted by Olson to underscore the interracial
promise of the democratic project
 Racial capitalism → term used by Cedric Robinson to
underscore the inherent racial character of
capitalism from its inception to the present day
Chaz Briscoe (2020)
“The White Response to
Black Lives Matter and
Mike Brown”
National Review of Black
Politics
If your questions are driven more by specific research problems, theory testing, or advocation
towards public policy, CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its
own) for your specific research problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Abstraction, practical application to real-life issues is difficult.
• While a philosophical analysis may render problematic that
which was once simple or taken-for-granted, the writing can
be dense and subject to unnecessary jargon, overstatement,
and/or excessive quotation and documentation.
• There can be analytical difficulties in moving from philosophy
to advocacy and between abstract thought and application
to the phenomenal world.
Archival Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Historical Design” which
is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
ï‚š How has a major political party shifted tactics for securing an election?
ï‚š What norms has the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to SCOTUS broken?
ï‚š How have researches engaged the political history of the Mexican Revolution in relation to the
Trans-Atlantic slave trade?
READING:
ARCHIVAL ANALYSIS
ï‚š QUESTION ASKED: How has the public discussion of
urban expansion in the nineteenth century,
particularly through the practice of consolidation,
insulate concerns about the “threats” of the big
city?(paraphrased from abstract, p. 183)
 Gender → women working outside the home
 Sexuality → homosexuality
 Race → interracial mixing
ï‚š ARCHIVAL PHENOMENA COMPARED (i.e. cases):
ï‚š 1851: union of Van Vorst Township to Jersey City
 1898: absorption of the City of Brooklyn to “Greater
New York”
Richardson Dilworth &
Kathryn Trevenen (2004)
“When Cities Get Married:
Construction Urban Space
through Gender, Sexuality,
and Municipal
Consolidation”
Urban Affairs Review.
If your questions are driven more by recent events, theory testing, or highlighting causal
relations, ARCHIVAL ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its own) for your
specific research problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Since historical research relies on data from the past, there is no
way to manipulate it to control for contemporary contexts.
• Interpreting historical sources can be very time consuming.
• Due to the lack of control over external variables, weak with
regard to the demands of internal validity.
• It is rare that the entirety of historical documentation needed to
fully address a research problem is available for interpretation,
therefore, gaps need to be acknowledged.
Comparative Historical Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Cross-Sectional Design”
which is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
ï‚š What themes have organized the demands of freedom fighters in Algeria across distinct time
periods in that country’s history (E.G. pre-Algerian War vs. post-Algerian War)?
ï‚š How has urban gentrification in the city of Los Angeles, California, been redefined by different
ethnic groups that correspond to different decades of migration (e.g. Mexican-Americans,
Chinese-Americans, and Iranian-Americans)?
READING:
COMPARATIVE HISTORICAL
ANALYSIS
 QUESTION ASKED: “How can Americans achieve
further progress in their long national struggle to
reduce enduring material race inequalities?”(p.
253)
 First empirical claim → American racial politics has
been structured historically as evolving systems of
opposing racial policy alliances
 Second empirical claim → contemporary American
racial politics more aligned with the 2 major political
parities and with opposed economic ideologies than
ever before
ï‚š PHENOMENA COMPARED HISTORICALLY (i.e.
cases):
ï‚š 1787-1865: pro-slavery alliance vs. anti-slavery alliance
ï‚š 1896-1954: pro-Jim Crow racial alliance vs. anti-Jim
Crow racial alliance
ï‚š 1978-2008: color-blind alliance vs. race-conscious
alliance
Desmond S. King & Rogers
M. Smith (2011)
“Prospects of the House
Divided”
Still a House Divided: Race
and Politics in Obama’s
America
(Princeton University Press)
If your questions are driven more by behavioral tendencies or highlighting causal relations,
COMPARATIVE HISTORICAL ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its own) for
your specific research problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Finding people, subjects, or phenomena to study that are very
similar except in one specific variable can be difficult.
• Studies cannot be utilized to establish cause and effect
relationships.
• This design only provides a snapshot of analysis so there is always
the possibility that a study could have differing results if another
time-frame had been chosen.
Policy Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Systematic Review”
which is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
ï‚š How does the legalization of prostitution in the 1980s inform the decriminalization of all drug use in
Portugal – the first country to do so in 2001?
ï‚š Why has the struggle over drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants been successful in states
which have within their borders cities that have continuously ranked high for public
transportation?
READING:
COMPARATIVE HISTORICAL
ANALYSIS
 QUESTION ASKED: “how could the campaign
recover if a Black first lady prioritized or highlighted
public nutrition assistance?” (p. 232)
ï‚š Michelle Obama distances herself from Black
pathology stereotypes with FLOTUS anti-obesity
campaign.
ï‚š Reinforces paternalism & respectability politics
(individual moral uplift + personal responsibility)
ï‚š CAMPAIGNS CODED FOR POLICY ANALYSIS (i.e.
sources):
 Let’s Move! – Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity
campaign → reproductive health & sexuality
 “War on Women” – response to President Barack
Obama’s initiative to increase access to
contraceptives during 2012 presidential election
 American Grown – Michelle Obama’s “narrative of
decline” book to reinforce “healthy eating” habits
through gardening
Grace E. Howard (2018)
“Illegitimate Appetites:
Michelle Obama’s AntiObesity Campaign as
Sexual Regulation”
Black Women in Politics
Edited by Julia S. JordanZachery & Nikol G.
Alexander-Floyd
(SUNY Press)
If your questions are driven more by behavioral tendencies or highlighting causal relations,
POLICY ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its own) for your specific research
problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Systematic reviews do not create new knowledge; they are a
method for synthesizing existing studies about a research problem
in order to gain new insights and determine gaps in the literature.
• The inclusion of unpublished studies can introduce bias into the
review because they may not have undergone a rigorous peerreview process prior to publication. Examples may include
conference presentations or proceedings, publications from
government agencies, white papers, working papers, and internal
documents from organizations, and doctoral dissertations and
Master’s theses.
Discourse Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Systematic Review”
which is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
ï‚š What does the linguistic framework of trade do for the nation building project of the city-state
known as Singapore?
 What does “freedom” mean for the American democratic project when the U.S. has the highest
rates of prisoners in the world?
ï‚š What role, if any, can the demands of the Penguin Revolution of 2006 play in the re-writing of the
Chilean Constitution which was approved by popular vote in October 2020?
READING:
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
 QUESTION ASKED: “under what conditions can
literacy help migrants meet their goals?” (p. 24)
 Un/Underemployment → deindustrialization →
devalues resources, particularly of Azorean migrants
& Azorean Americans in South Mills
 Restrictive immigration laws → devalue literacy skills,
particularly of Brazilian migrants in South Mills
 “PAPERS AS PRODUCTS OF LITERACY” CODED FOR
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS (i.e. variables):
ï‚š Citizenship/residency status = Green cards, birth
certificates, work visas, social security cards
ï‚š Educational status = GED, H.S. Diplomas, College
Degrees
ï‚š Language = English, Bi-lingual capacity
Kate Vieira (2016)
“Literacy and Assimilation
in an Age of Papers”
American By Paper: How
Documents Matter in
Immigrant Literacy
(University of Minnesota
Press)
If your questions are driven more by behavioral tendencies or highlighting causal relations,
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its own) for your specific
research problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Systematic reviews do not create new knowledge; they are a
method for synthesizing existing studies about a research problem
in order to gain new insights and determine gaps in the literature.
• The way researchers have carried out their investigations [e.g., the
period of time covered, number of participants, sources of data
analyzed, etc.] can make it difficult to effectively synthesize
studies.
Content Analysis
 This approach is most akin to the Type of Research Design called “Meta-Analysis Design”
which is outlined in your online “textbook”:
ï‚š ORGANIZING YOUR SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH PAPER (USC Library Guide).
ï‚š Examples of questions that this approach good at addressing:
 What are the national priorities presented to President Donald J. Trump’s base during “Trump
Rallies”?
ï‚š How do climate change activists, under the age of suffrage, represent themselves as political
actors across different social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram)?
ï‚š How do the South African campaigns for land redistribution compare to similar campaigns for
land redistribution in Israel?
READING:
CONTENT ANALYSIS
 QUESTION ASKED: “does the print media fan the
politics of disgust?” (p. 66)
ï‚š Frequent publication & circulation of specific
stereotypical behavior attributed to “welfare queens”
ï‚š Frequent publication & circulation of moral
judgement about “welfare queens”
ï‚š CONCEPT AREAS FOR CONTENT ANALYSIS (i.e.
variables):
ï‚š hyperfertility = stereotypical behavior attributed to
Black women on welfare
ï‚š Laziness = moral judgement given about Black
women on welfare
Ange-Marie Hancock
(2004)
“The New Media:
Constructing the Politics of
Disgust”
The Politics of Disgust: The
Public Identity of the
Welfare Queen
(NYU Press)
If your questions are driven more by behavioral tendencies or highlighting causal relations,
CONTENT ANALYSIS is not the best approach (at least not on its own) for your specific
research problem.
What this approach relies upon – and therefore is limited by:
• Small violations in defining the criteria used for content analysis
can lead to difficult to interpret and/or meaningless findings.
• A large sample size can yield reliable, but not necessarily valid,
results.
• A lack of uniformity regarding, for example, the type of literature
reviewed, how methods are applied, and how findings are
measured within the sample of studies you are analyzing, can
make the process of synthesis difficult to perform.
• Depending on the sample size, the process of reviewing and
synthesizing multiple studies can be very time consuming.
ASSIGNMENT REMINDERS
ï‚š All those who were assigned to write an ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY for
Unit 3, please (re)turn to the ASSIGNMENT link in the Course Menu on
Blackboard and complete all the components.
ï‚š Skill Building Exercises #2 & #3 are now available via Blackboard in the
ASSIGNMENT link in the Course Menu.
ï‚š Directions for Reflection Journal Entry #2 can be located via the
REFLECTION JOURNAL link in the Course Menu.
I will be offering a 24-hour general extension to everyone for
all three assignments due in Week 8 (i.e. everything needs to
be turned in by 11:59 pm, Monday, November 2).


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