Understanding the Value of Qualitative Research

An important part of both analyzing other’s research approaches and reflecting on your own includes understanding the positive and negative aspects of varied forms of social research and how they can influence a researcher’s stance and tone. While quantitative data can provide a general overview of the impacts of public policy and systems which manage society, qualitative data can provide specific and important information regarding the causes of this impact, such as the how, why, and who. Therefore, qualitative research can provide beneficial information to aid public policy in regards to social problems. This is especially important to know when public policy and systems create negative impacts, such as profiling, inequality, limited access, and social exclusion. It is also important to be able to recognize the stance or informed viewpoint of the researcher reporting on this information. 

One of the more immersive forms of social research methods available is one of the qualitative methods: ethnography. Ethnography allows a researcher to experience the impacts through living amongst the citizens who have to engage with public policy and its systems in their daily lives. The most intriguing aspects of this type of research is how the researcher maintains an ethical and neutral stance during and after the process of research and how the experience can impact their stance or underlying tone.

In this assignment, you will present the benefits of ethnographical research in terms of informing public policy, as well as understanding the researcher’s role in performing and reporting on ethnographic research. You will do this through your own research of immersive ethnographical approaches (including the course text), and also through analyzing Dr. Alice Goffman’s work on inner city people of color in Philadelphia. You will be provided with reporting and reviews of her work to help fuel your own analysis of Dr. Goffman’s approach. This will help you become better at discerning what useful research is in order to appropriately inform decision-making in society. 

In your paper, you must address the following:Explain the researcher’s role in qualitative research. Discuss the unique issues that researchers should be concerned about in regards to their role in research, and explain how this is specifically a challenge in ethnographical research. Discuss specific actions researchers can take to ensure they retain their ethical and neutral stance in performing qualitative research and reporting their qualitative research results.Regarding Alice Goffman’s recent ethnographical work in inner-city Philadelphia, and based on what you know from the text and your own research on ethnographic immersion, determine whether or not Goffman maintained an ethical and neutral stance, and provide justification of the approach Goffman chose to take. Based on what you have been able to ascertain from Goffman’s work, discuss the information that was gained by performing a qualitative ethnography into the social problems of inner-city Philadelphia. Explain whether or not this could have been possible with a quantitative research study.Discuss what you have learned in regards to qualitative research and in particular ethnographic research in supporting decision making and the creation of public policy.

The paper must be at least four pages in length (excluding title and reference pages) and formatted according to APA style. Support your written work with examples from the recommended material(s), the text, and at least two scholarly articles sources Cite your sources in-text and on the reference page.



Goffman, A. (2009) On the Run: Wanted Men in a Philadelphia Ghetto.  American Sociological Review  74/2 (2009): 339-357.    http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/soc/faculty/docs/goffman/Goffman_ASR_09.pdf   


Kotlowitz, A. (2014)  Deep Cover:  Alice Goffman’s ‘On the Run’.  The New York Times.  June 26, 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/books/review/alice-goffmans-on-the-run.html   


Kumar, Priyanka (2014) Life, Prison and Pursuit of Happiness.  LA Review of Books.  August 22, 2014  http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/life-prison-pursuit-happiness  


Schuessler, J. (2014)  Fieldwork of Total Immersion.  The New York Times. April 29, 2014.   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/books/alice-goffman-researches-poor-black-men-in-on-the-run.html?_r=0


Wilson, W.J. (2014)  The Travails of Urban Field Research.  Contemporary Sociology 43/6 (November 2014): 824-828

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