Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quantitative methods...

I was really lucky to get the job at FAFO right now. Their project (in cooperation with CMR) is about migration (mainly labour) from Poland to Norway, after EU enlargement in 2004. I am working as an interviewer in the quantitative surveys. Pretty cool job, I think. And the first one that has something in common with my education!

I think it's really a good time to do this now when I am preparing to my fieldwork. Firstly, I can train myself in doing interviews, I've never done this. Well, a few as a homework, but any that really tells, that are a part of research and on which that research depends! Wow, it was really strange to sit and talk with respondents and realize that "this is what has to be done before all see the results!" hehe. I know I know, banal discovery, but anyway it's pretty amazing to experience the boundarylessness of the field! is it now? is it allready now? am I doing research? I think everybody has to go through this kind of questions before he or she discovers that no magic wand will transform me-student to me-researcher. I've experienced that in spite of that it's not my project at all, but I am trying to take advantage of this job.

Anyway, the other thing is that yes-no-don't know-doesn't apply-
surveys can be so frustrating! Especially when respondent wants to talk or starts his or her monologue, goes deeper into the subject, tells his or her lifestories and you are sitting there with your pencil, looking at the emotionless piece of paper with boxes, tables and number on and ask: "So you are happy while working in Norway? Right/wrong/don't know?" (it's only example, there is not taken from the questionnaire). I was just reading Leach's critique of quantitative surveys and I do understand what he means with incorrectly defined terms. Because what does it mean to be happy? How does the respondent interpret the question? Happy because or happy in spite of? How do we interpret this? It hadn't been a problem if it weren't for the fact that others interviewers could interpret the question differently... Well, there is no meaning to go deeply in those subject in this research so it doesn't hurt. The important thing is that we have to be really careful when using some others people's data, research materials, examples and so on, and especially while making conclusions based on them. Anyway, I am collecting practical arguments for not using quantitative methods in non-statistical phenomena. Obvious, obvious again, I know, but it feels so good to experience the need for some other method while doing for instance interview. It's so satisfying to be able to see lacks and to know what more could be done to improve the research... wow. thank you for your attention:)

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