The Media of (Qualitative) Methods

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Ruth AYASS, University of Bielefeld, Germany
In the methodological discussion, surprisingly little attention is generally paid to the technology and the media used in the research process. This is astonishing in that devices, machines, software tools, and media of all kinds play a key role in the production of empirical results. The discipline of Science and Technology Studies has been concerned mostly with the natural sciences in its descriptions of how technology and media influence the generation of scientific knowledge. However, technology and media are also highly relevant for empirical research in sociology. The technologisation and mediatisation of research activities affect empirical research in general, but it is of particular importance within the qualitative paradigm. The reason for this is that the constitution of the data material and the reflexivity of the research process, for methodological reasons, are of special relevance here. Thus far, the discussion of the media’s contribution to the research process has been rather erratic: ethnography, for instance, in “Crisis of Ethnographical Representation”, analysed the role of writing and the authority of the author; in Conversation Analysis, there is an intense ongoing discussion about the status of the transcript in the research process. However, these debates mostly regard themselves as the problem of the individual methods and are considered a specific problem in each particular case – nothwithstanding the fact that they are relevant also in other methods. This is because the media, devices, and machines inscribe themselves in the research process and thus in the result of the empirical examination. The presentation will discuss the media-driven constitution of qualitative methods as well as its methodological consequences.