General Information / All sections
Qualitative Research Methods in the Study of Nationalism and Ethnicity
Associate Professor Guest Lecturer
Department : Nationalism Studies Program
Central European University
Semester/term, year: Spring 2019
Course level (MA, PhD)
# Credits (# ECTS Credits)
Pre-requisites (if applicable)
Course e-learning site:
Office hours: days, location: Monday
Course Description and Learning Outcomes
This course is designed to familiarize students with the methods of qualitative inquiry in nationalism studies and the studies of minorities and ethnicities; as well as to equip them with skills they will need to formulate research questions and carry out research in this field. Through practical exercises, we will focus on planning a research, doing fieldwork and interviewing. We will also consider certain analytical dimensions of research and writing, especially from the perspective of studies of nationalism and minority issues.
Grades will be calculated as follows:
Class participation and attendance 10%
Research plan assignment 10%
Interview guide assignment 20%
Field notes and observation assignment 20%
Final presentation of research plan 20%
Final essay: qualitative methods statement 20%
Research plan assignment: Individually or in groups of 2-3, formulate a research question, make it clear what is it you want to research and why? How do you go about finding the answers? Choose a method and find a research site. Explain why these fit adequately to your research question and conditions. Please, bring a hard copy of your research plan to the class (Week 3) where you have to present it. The assignment is to turn in:
1. research topic (title)
2. research question (should be problem oriented, formulated in analytic terms)
3. short literature background (2 items and not longer than one large paragraph) showing the analytic terminology and the applied methodology in the field, including some previous research findings
4. research sites
5. methods to applied
Field notes and observation assignment: Individually or in groups of 2-4, agree on a place and the topic (ex. a space of activity, a ritual, or public event) for ethnographic observation which should be related to your research question. Each group member should spend at least twice 2 hours conducting observation in the agreed-upon place(s). Record your observations as fieldnotes typed up as soon as possible afterwards. Whether you take notes or make jottings during the research will depend on the circumstances. The observation and fieldnotes assignment is individual. Bring a hard copy of your fieldnotes to the class on Week 5 where you will present it. The assignment is to turn in: 1. your field notes, strictly descriptive (no analysis and not opinion) presenting the actors participating in the situation, their interactions, the circumstances and what did actually happen (min 1,5 page (3000 characters) - max 2 pages 4000 character); and 2. a short analytical reflection.
Interview guide assignment: Individually or in groups of 2-4, create an interview guide for a semi-structured or focus-group interview about a topic related to your research question agreed upon by the whole group (if this is the case). Bring a hard copy of your interview guide to the class on Week 5 where you will present it.
Final presentation of your research plan: this is an oral presentation of the research plan in Week 5, which can be collective if the research was conducted in group. Please use power point presentations and pictures if you have. Start with your research questions, methods and sites, continue with your interview guide, present your preliminary field work and observations and finally refine your research questions.
Final Essay – Methods statement. This is a written presentation (5-6 pages, 10.000-12.000 characters) with references to our class readings and discussions and using your previous works done for this seminar (research plan, interview guide, fieldnotes).
1. Begin with a clear statement of the topic and an overarching research question. 2. Briefly give some background explanation of why is necessary to understand your question (including references to the literature in the field). 3. Then outline the methods and overall design of the project, explaining and justifying them according the state of the art. 4. Present the interview plan. 4. Reflect on your preliminary fieldwork. 5. Finally, point out the experienced limitations of your planed methodology and how you can revise your research plan to transcend these limitations.
- Week 1: Introduction to qualitative methods. Qualitative investigation of nationalism and ethnicity
Introduction to qualitative methods. Qualitative investigation of nationalism and ethnicity
What are methods? What do they do for us?
What are qualitative methods?
Studying everyday nationhood and vernacular forms of neo-nationalism
Applying qualitative methods in nationalism studies
Studying ethnicity and ethnic identities with qualitative methods
Denzin, Norman and Yvonna S. Lincoln (2011): The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research and Part I: Locating the Field. In: Denzin, Norman and Yvonna S. Lincoln ed. Handbook of Qualitative Research. Sage, 1-26.
Schiff, Claire (2014): Introduction: Understanding the Salience of Ethnicity in the Educational Experiences of Minority Adolescences across Europe. And Margit, Feischmidt: Dampened Voices. A Comparative Look at Roma Adolescences’ Discourses of Being ‘Othered’ at School. Both In: Szalai, J. and Schiff, C. ed. Migrant, Roma and Post-Colonial Youth in Education across Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, 1-15 and 120-135.
Recommended readingsFox, Jon and Miller-Idriss, Cynthia “Everyday Nationhood”. Ethnicities, 2008, 8 (4), 536-582
- Week 2: Research question and research structure
Research question and research structure
What is it you want to research? Why? Why does it matter?
Research questions originating from everyday experiences
Literature review. Refine your research question in analytical terms
How do you go about finding the answers?
Choosing and mixing methods
Choosing your field and research subjects
Example: Research plan
Assignment: research plan
Choose a topic (potential thesis topic) and formulate it into a research plan that indicates what you will study, what you want to find out, and what you want to understand or show through this inquiry. Indicate the methods and the analytic concepts to be applied.
Please bring the research plan (1,5-2 page, 3000-4000 characters) to the next class.
Hammersley, Martyn and Paul Atkinson (1983): Research design. Problems, cases and samples. In: Ibid: Ethnography: Principles and Practice. London, NY: Routledge 23-53.
Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams “From Topics to Questions” and “From Questions to Problems.” (1993): In Ibid. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 29-63.
- Week 3: Ethnographic methods
3.1. Discussion: students’ research plans
Please, bring with you and be prepared to read it out your research plan.
3.2. Entering the field and doing ethnographic research
How to select research settings and cases?
How can you find the informants?
How to establish relationships?
Stages of participant observation (entering the field and doing participative research)
How to deal with personal attachments?
What anthropologists do with fieldnotes? Professional and personal uses and meanings of fieldnotes
Writing up fieldnotes. Concepts and styles in writing fieldnotes
Organizing descriptions based on fieldnotes
Schensul, Stephen (1999): Entering the field. In: Schensul, Stephen et al ed. Essential Ethnographic Methods. Seven Oaks Innovation. CA: Altamira Press, 69-89
Bernhard, R. Participant observation. (2006): Ch 7 in Bernhard R. Research Methods in Anthropology. Oxford: Altamira Press, 136-164.
Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz and Linda L. Shaw (1995): “Fieldnotes in Ethnographic Research” and “In the Field: Participating, Observing, and Jotting Notes,” In: Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 1-38.
Assignment: Field notes and ethnographic observation
Choose a field where you can do participant observation (min. two times in the field). Make a description of the observed event, interactions etc. based on your fieldnotes (max. 2 pages, 4000 characters) and bring your ethnographic description to the last class. (Week 5)
- Week 4: Interview methods: Unstructured, semi-structured individual interviews. Focus group interviews
Week 4: Interview methods: Unstructured, semi-structured individual interviews. Focus group interviews
Interview methods: Unstructured, semi-structured individual interviews. Focus group interviews
Structure, setting, and the role of the interviewer
Interview types based on the research aim and degree of control
Oral history, narrative interview
Semi-structured individual interview
How to stimulate the interviewee to produce more information?
Interview guide examples: semi-structured and structured individual interview
Interview guide example and exercise (In the class make a draft of your interview guide wording, order, and content of questions)
Bernard, R (2006): Unstructured and semi-structured interviewing. In Bernard R. Research Methods in Anthropology. Oxford: Altamira Press, 208-236
Briggs, Charles (1983) Learning how to Ask. Cambridge: CUP. Chapter 5 93-111.
Holstein, James and Jaber Gubrium (1997) Active Interviewing. In: Silverman, David (ed.) Qualitative research: theory, method, and practice. London, Sage 113-129
Morgan, David L. (1997) Focus group as qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Semi-structured individual and focus group interview guides
Assignment: interview guide
Please prepare and bring your interview guides to the next last class. (Week 5)
- Week 5: Presentations and Writing
Presentations and Writing
Presentation of the students’ participant observation based field notes and interview guides
Please prepare and bring a power point presentation including:
- your individual or collective revised research plan,
- your individual or collective interview guide
- your individual field notes
- Week 6: Writing: ethnography and the argumentative empirical study
Writing: ethnography and the argumentative empirical study
Creative reading, creative writing
Writing up: making arguments flow from the data
Interpretation, pre-existing theories and assumptions
Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz and Linda L. Shaw (1995): Writing an Ethnography. In: Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995): 166-210.
Hammersley, Martyn and Paul Atkinson (1983): The Process of Analysis. In: Ibid: Ethnography: Principles and Practice. London: Routledge 23-53.
Atlas.ti – Quick tour http://atlasti.com/manuals-docs/
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