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Teenagers: ‘All in war with time’: SOCRMx Week 7

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Saturday, 18 Nov 2017, 15:05

‘All in war with time’: SOCRMx Week 7: The activity is as follows:

The literary quip may seem to show that I’m not that intent on being very forthcoming about a rigorous approach to coding but I hope that I am. However, my reflections have all been about the adequacy However, I’m happy to be corrected because I don’t have much experience of coding software, which may be more sophisticated than I suspect it to be.

·       Visit the UK Data Service database of these essays, and read a number of them (ideally between 6-10). Make some notes about what you notice about the content, use of language, or other features of these essays, and where there are similarities and differences between them that you find interesting.  

·       I looked at 10 to be on the safe side and decided not to select  my 10 after selectively reading, which would have reflected my prior interests, but to take the first 10 that came up on my dashboard (which were the essays by 11 to 20). All of these examples were male – a potential or problem in the research?

·       I felt I needed much more information than we were given about instructions to participants, especially about format, but thought I’d go ahead without seeking this information.

o   First, there was the issue of length – were instructions given. If not, is length per se meaningful and codable – does it contribute to interpretation of meaning and why and how?

o   Second, some ‘essays’ (why was that word chosen?) were segmented into sections fronted by a separate bolded capital R (presumably for ‘Respondent’ but not necessarily). This seems to suggest that the essay was delivered in a specifiable number of ‘takes’. How was each take constituted since a take does not have a standard length across the essays, and some with more takes (5 for Essay by 11) are much shorter than ones with less takes (1 take in Essay by 12 for instance). As, perhaps, an example of the problems with statistics the Mean was 5.5 takes, Median, 4 & Mode 3. The range was 11. This kind of variation is not very meaningfully statistically but it will be significant perhaps in other ways. But how?

o   Issues of lexis, syntax and prose structure are considerably varied even in my 10 ‘sample’. With some themes, such issues will be of immense importance. In fact I wanted to choose one where that is the case. There is a danger that the meaningful structures created in those features of language would and should have a large effect on coding choices – maybe for all themes or maybe only for some.

· What is a key theme that emerges for you from the essays you have read?

·        Because we are told that these ‘essays express expectations and hopes’ I was already tempted to investigate something about attitudes to time (especially future time) and place (and future place). However, these ‘attitudes’ would be in themselves of only (as they say) ‘academic’ interest unless they were linked to notions of personal agency in relation to time & place.

·        As a learner and teacher f psychology, I have of course interests in old concepts like ‘locus of control’ (Rutter) and ‘self-efficacy’ (Bandura) etc. which are also associated to tools used in quantitative research. This raises some interesting issues BUT I am glad this is just a one-off exercise nevertheless, because they are complex issues.

·        An issue arises about whether we consider all the points raised as one category of code for which we will (a-priori) seek examples or as a possible product from a more fine-grained bottom-up or ‘grounded’ analysis, since even from first reading I was picking up sub-categories such as internal intention, self-action, network-action, external top-down determining action, present time as past, future time as present, intermediary time as past, and so on …..

·        Of course such abstractions will not, I think be picked up by software and are often coded by elements of syntax (tense for instance), length of sentence and use of subordination in sentence structure.

·  What is an interesting question that researchers might be able to answer using this data?

·        How do attitudes to personal agency in imagined time and place reveal the life-expectations of teenage males in South Sheppey?

·        Do attitudes correlate with demographic data?

· If you were conducting a project using this data, what would you want to do next?

·        I would work out how I take into account signifiers such as grammar & syntax (tense, sentence structure variants, etc.), lexis and other issues, even length.

·        In an initial look I discovered that some used a kind of regressive story structure, which referred the boy back (as an ‘old man’) to what he should (from the old man’s perspective) be thinking now. Is this a means of producing cognitive alternatives and widening options in present personal agency?

·        I would want to consider how subject-positions operate in the ‘essays’ relative to networks of different kinds (family, marriage, friends, and generalised ‘people’).

·        I’d need to work out whether issues of cognitive style were salient.

·        The active role of events already in the past or present for the writer in the future.

·        Issues of choice as ‘open’ or ‘closed’ – Chatham dockyards or nothing against a range of options – perhaps spread over time.


Add a link to your blog post in the week 7 discussion forum.

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