The teaching module “methodology” pursues three major objectives. First, it is a framework for providing training in the methodology of Social Sciences and research methods for doctoral students, Post-docs and researchers engaged in Area Studies. It supports their work of planning research and conducting fieldwork. Second, it functions as a framework for researchers working on Southeast Asia to collaboratively develop research concepts and methodologies that enable interdisciplinary and culturally sensitive research on the region. Third, it seeks to bridge the hiatus between quantitative and qualitative research. At the end of the workshop series it is planned to edit a methodology handbook for Southeast Asianists.
Some of the methodology workshops are also held in cooperation with our partner universities in Southeast Asia. The dissemination of research techniques and the strengthening of research skills of scholars and researchers from the region is a priority for Southeast Asian Studies at Freiburg. Moreover, exploring country and field specific research problems with researchers and scholars from the region directly contributes to the development of interdisciplinary research techniques suitable to the study of Southeast Asia.
Introduction to the Methodology of Monitoring and Evaluation in Development Cooperation in an Intercultural Setting
- Date: 20-21 July 2012
- Workshop instructor: Prof. Eckart Koch (University for applied science, Munich, AGEG)
- Date: 13 October 2012
- Workshop speakers: Prof. Giampietro Gobo (Milano), Prof. Anne Ryen (Adger/Kristiansand), Prof. Björn Alpermann (Würzburg), Dr. Dominique Schirmer (Freiburg)
- Organized together with the BMBF project on "Universality and acceptance potential of social science knowledge" at the University of Freiburg.
Qualitative Comparative Analysis - QCA
- Date: 7-8 March 2011
- Workshop instructor: Prof. Carsten Schneider (Associate professor in political science at Central European University, Hungary, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracies (DISC)). Part of his research focuses on political regime transitions and qualities of democracies, a topic immediately related to our research project.
- Relevance for the project goals: The QCA approach to the qualitative study of macro social phenomena aims to go "beyond the quantitative-qualitative divide". Currently, it is one of the leading attempts in social sciences to build bridges between these two camps of social research and therefore of special relevance in the interdisciplinary context of this project. Additionally, some of the PhD candidates who are conducting case studies with a comparative approach will particularly benefit from this intrudoction to the logic of QCA.
Content details: This course deals with set-theoretic methods and their application in the social sciences. In a first step, the course spells out the fundamental concepts that characterize this methodological perspective, among them the central notions of necessity and sufficiency. This requires that the participants are also made familiar with background knowledge from set-theory, formal logic and Boolean algebra. The course will start with crisp-set (dichotomous) Qualitative Comparative Analysis (csQCA), including practical steps, best practices, and the use of software packages Then the course provides a thorough introduction to fuzzy-set QCA (fsQCA). Several advanced issues surrounding QCA, such as its relation to case selection principles, concept formation and aggregation issues, or the treatment of time in QCA will be discussed
Date: 7-8 April 2011
Workshop instructor: Prof. Joachim Blatter (Luzern), Author of "Qualitative Politikanalyse" (2007, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, with F. Janning, C. Wagemann)
Relevance for the project: Disciplinary training (for political scientists in this case) is an important building block for interdisciplinary communication and understanding. Additionally, this workshop will help to sharpen our reflective potential dealing with several types of case studies which again range from „more qualitative to more quantitative“ -- from the „co-variational template“ to process tracing and the congruence method. Process tracing is especially applicable to context sensitive research and is one of the methods implemented by several PhD candidates in their research projects.
Content details: There has been a dramatic increase in methodological reflection in the recent years in case study research. This workshop will deal with several new approaches to explanatory analysis in Small-N-Research.
Case Study Design
Qualitative Data Analysis
- Date: 30-31 May 2011
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Susanne Friese
- Relevance for the project goals: This upcoming workshop is of special relevance for the long-term goals of the project. Held in cooperation with a DAAD funded "Tandem-Project" to support collaborative and intercultural research, eight guest scholars from Indonesia coming from the disciplines of Political Science and Social and Cultural Anthropology participate in the workshop. The underlying open framework of grounded theory analysis is especially suited for culturally sensitive research as its basic strategy of "constant comparison" and the concept of "emerging theories" require to systematically reflect on the status and position of the generated knowledge. This workshop focus is an ideal starting point for intercultural debates on the issues of localization of and through research methods, intersubjective communication about coding and coding strategies, and reflectivity as a basic ingredient of context sensitive research.
- Content details: The primary goal of this workshop is to develop the practical skills to conduct qualitative data analysis with a special focus on "coding" as a basic principle of analysis. The participants will do practical "hands-on" exercises using one of the standard QDA-software packages (MAXQDA).
- Date: 10.-11. December 2011
- Workshop instructor: Prof. Angermüller. He is one of the principal researchers of the German discourse analysis network (discourseanalysis.net) and author of several key texts on discourse analysis (inter alia: “Trends in German Discourse Analysis Against an International Background”, Journal of Multicultural Discourses 6(2): 121-136, 2011).
Relevance for the project goals: This workshop was particularly relevant for the project, because discourse analysis can encompass quantitative as well as qualitative components. Many of the participating scholars’ topics naturally lean themselves towards a discourse analysis approach: 1. (De-)Securitization-Dynamics in the Indonesian transition process, 2. Human rights discourses in Southeast Asia, 3. Images of the West in Indonesia, 4. Foreign Policy Discourses in Indonesia, 5. Historical culture and the revitalization of traditions in Indonesia, 6. Thai-Chinese community perspectives on the Chinese Civil War, 7. The influence of the position of Chinese-Indonesians in colonial times on contemporary attitudes of ethnic Chinese towards the West, 8. The relation between Indonesias socio-historic context and its political behavior in foreign politics., 9. (Threat-) Perceptions of the United States in Indonesia. While not all participants had planned to use techniques of discourse analysis or root their research in such a tradition, the workshop inspired some to reflect on their research design This workshop complemented the earlier one on Qualitative Data Analysis in many ways -- the project thereby achieved to acquaint the participants with two crucial approaches of interpretative research in social science. In addition to this, discourse analysis is an approach where contextual sensitivity and the social contingency of meaning is especially highlighted. This makes such an approach particularly suitable for “area- specific” research, that we all strive for in this project.
Content details: Besides a general introduction to the background of this research approach, the second part of the workshop was devoted to the practical implementation by taking examples of the participants’ work.
Workshops I-III: Introduction to basic principles and foundations of empirical research in social science.
- Dates: 18/19 December 2009, 22/23 January 2010, 11/12 February 2010
- Workshop instructors: Dr. Dominique Schirmer, Dr. Eric Haanstadt, Dr. Ursula Degener
- Relevance for the project:
- The three introductory workshops were organized to make the participating scholars familiar with basic concepts and epistemological foundations of empirical research in social science. Intensive discussions on different understandings of what constitutes adequate strategies for the construction of social research helped to clarify where positions of research traditions and the involved researchers converge and diverge. This was a fundamental and necessary step to enable the participants first to orient themselves not only in their own field but in the field of social science in general. Second, these discussions enabled exchange and reflections on how contingent the respective research approaches are and which hidden assumptions and possible consequences researchers “buy in” when following certain lines.
- As main instructor for these workshops we invited Dr. Dominique Schirmer – an expert in social research methodology with a background in the discipline of Sociology (a discipline not represented in the project and therefore in a way more “neutral” – suitable for the interdisciplinary aims). She has in-depth experience with doing research in Asia and is the author of a textbook on social research methodology → Schirmer (2009): Empirische Methoden der Sozialforschung
Currently, she is responsible for the methodology teaching at the Department of Sociology in Freiburg where qualitative and quantitative methods are taught on an equal footing. Dr. Schirmer also attempts to seek ways where cross-fertilization of different methodological tools is possible, which is a crucial objective of our project.
- Three key issues of the introductory workshops were the topics of “Role Reflection”, “Interculturality” and "Ethics in Research". In addition to the obvious relevance of role reflection and questions related to interculturality in Area Studies research in general, these concerns are central especially for the associated research pillar “Concepts of the 'West' in Asia (Beyond Occidentalism)”. In this context, we invited the Post-doctoral Researcher of the department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Dr. Haanstadt, together with Dr. Schirmer to share his impressive experience and perspectives on such matters as “Reflectivity” and Fieldwork practices. The group also engaged in lively debates about the practical dimensions of ethical concerns in social research - how to deal with such questions in the specific research field and the related PhD projects.
- Besides this introduction to more general issues of doing social research the instructors also gave a first overview of key principles and techniques of empirical research which were of prominent interest for the participating PhD candidates. Dr. Schirmer introduced “contrasting” as a fundamental technique to be applied in several stages of the research process in qualitative as well as in quantitative research designs. With a primer on (comparative) case study design, Dr. Degener explicated this general principle for its application in the field of Political Science. In the same vein, in the workshop the instructors and participants discussed different sampling strategies and the issues of representativeness, abstraction and possibilities/limits of generalization in different research designs – a topic particularly relevant for the PhD-candidates from the field of Economics. Using the example of one of the "Tandem Research Projects" the instructors also provided some basic insights of how to conduct Content Analysis – as a broad approach to analyze, categorize, code and condense any form of textual data.
- Already in this part of the methodology training, some workshop components focused on discipline specific techniques and methods. The participating scholars also need to develop a solid understanding of what methodological rules their "home"-disciplines require them to follow before any fruitful dialogue between disciplines is possible. Therefore,not all of the workshop contents are meant to be of immediate practical use for all the participants. Nevertheless, these introductory workshops clearly helped and were highly valued to broaden the "methodological horizons" of all participants and to raise awareness for other possible paths and combinations of approaches to the analysis of social reality in area studies.
Introduction to basic principles of empirical research in social science (I)
- Date: 18-19 December 2010
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Dominique Schirmer
- Date: 22-23 January 2010
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Dominique Schirmer, Dr. Ursula Degener
- Date: 11-12 February 2010
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Dominique Schirmer, Dr. Eric Haanstad
Overview of research techniques: contrasting, sampling, case study design (II)
Content analysis, Role reflection and Interculturality (III)
Workshops IV-VII: Introduction to qualitative research methods
Interview Techniques (IV)
Date: 13 Ap ril 2010
- Workshop Instructor: Natalie Porter
- Relevance for the project: Interviewing is one of the crucial working techniques to gather empirical data that is employed by researchers coming from different disciplinary backgrounds. The aims of this workshop were to introduce, discuss, and practice several interview techniques used in the social sciences (Unstructured, Semi-structured, Structured Interviews, Questionnaires). The objective was to enable the participants to better understand how to use them and to identify when it is appropriate to use them. In the course of the workshop the participants discussed practical issues such as advantages and limitations of certain approaches for research in their particular disciplines and pivotal epistemological issues to enable culturally sensitive research such as the role of informants, language & context, authority and ethics.
Participant Observation (V)
- Date: 15 April 2010
- Workshop Instructor: Dr. Michaela Haug
- Relevance for the project: The workshop on participant observation was organized on the one hand to make those participants who do not come from an „anthropological“ background familiar with this very basique technique used in conducting ethnographic fieldwork. On the other hand, the instructor, Dr. Haug, has profound experience in doing participant observation in Southeast Asia (especially in Indonesia) and therefore could offer valuable advice also to those anthropologists who were already familiar with this kind of research. Participant observation as one of the key techniques of qualitative research involves living among a people and participating in their daily activities – immersing yourself in a culture and learning to remove yourself everyday from that immersion so you can intellectualize what you’ve seen and heard, put it into perspective, and write about it convincingly. This type of context sensitive research which aims to bring to front the perspectives of „the researched“ is a fundamentally important approach for conducting area specific research „grounded in social practice“.
Qualitative Data Analysis + QDA Software (VI)
- Date: 16 April 2010
- Workshop instructor: Christian Schmieder
- Relevance for the project: QDA Software plays an increasingly important role in many research projects as an option to organize qualitative data collected from fieldwork trips and to facilitate the analysis. One of the advantages of QDA Software is its ability to assist the researcher in the process of transcribing, categorizing and coding of data. In principle, it has the potential to enable researchers to make this process more systematic and replicable. In the context of our project where several PhD candidates are engaged in collaborative research projects („tandem research“) the possibility to exchange data and compare codings in an integrated environment could prove particularly helpful. Since some of the participants who could possibly make use of one of the QDA software packages already left for fieldwork trips at this very early stage of the project runtime it seemed appropriate to provide this first short introduction. Moreover, the workshop also aimed to stimulate reflection on the relationship between methodology and technology in general – in which way the use of technology influences the research process and its results – and the appropriateness of specific software packages for particular types of projects and approaches.
Qualitative Network Analysis (VII)
- Date: 9 July 2010
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Markus Gamper
- Relevance for the project: Social network analysis (SNA) is an established method for the study of social structures. It is increasingly employed in different disciplinary contexts and builds on a combination of micro and macro-perspectives where both networks and their influence on the behaviour of actors as well as the constitution of relational structures through the interrelationship of actors can be analyzed. Especially scholars from Social and Cultural Anthropology and Political Science often need to analyze and understand how social structures - for instance, group and kinship structures, clans, elite or corruption networks or inter-organizational networks evolve and influence behaviour. The analysis of group- and subgroup relations, and of processes of subjectivation and identifcation makes qualitative social network analysis suitable and intersting for reflectivist/interpretivist research frameworks. Additionally, behavioural orientations and norms of actors can often be understood in view of their position in social networks/cultural environments. However, with the possibility to include a more mathematical analysis of social relationships SNA ralso eaches out to more positivistic approaches (> Quantitative SNA).
Extended Workshop VIII: Introduction to quantitative research methods
- Date: 2 July 2010
- Workshop instructor: Dr. Sebastian Jäckle
- Relevance for the project: One of the most demanding challenges in interdisciplinary research and dialogue is to deal with fundamental misunderstandings concerning terminology. The reasons for the frequent failure of communication between researchers implementing qualitative and quantitative methods often derive from very little elementary knowledge about the „other“ culture of research. In contrast to qualitative methods, it is sometimes difficult to gain an intuitive understanding of „quantitative methods“ due to technical terminology and mathematical background. This workshop was organized to give those researchers not familiar with quantitative methods a basic introduction to the terminology, fundamental techniques (e.g. regression analysis) and the scope conditions for their application. Quantitative methods of data analysis provide a sometimes indispensable means of detecting patterns of social reality in a systematic and organized fashion. However, the workshop also helped to clarify what the limits of quantitative analysis are and what kind of assumptions researchers have to make when applying quantitative research. This was a necessary step for many participants on their way to become a thoughtful and informed consumer of the quantitative literature and thus enable first encounters and possibly fruitful interdisciplinary dialouge.