What roles do your values play?

English: ASHS science values
English: ASHS science values (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A value is an idea what people share about what is good or bad, desireble or undesireble. Values are reflected in apparantly trivial everyday behaviors. The sociologist Robin M. Williams, Jr. (1970) identified fifteen fundamental values (in reference to american society

  1. achievement and success
  2. activity and work
  3. humanitarianism
  4. efficiency and practicality
  5. progress
  6. material confort
  7. equality
  8. freedom
  9. resignation
  10. rationality and science
  11. nationalism and patriotism
  12. democracy
  13. individuality
  14. racial and ethnic superiority

Of course, there may be many more and some of the mentioned values may be not share in all the countries and also, it may change over time.

A “resources” or positivist researcher will probably sustain that our personal value should not affect the process of research and for this reasons you must be completly out of this process and that doing in-depth interviews the results are not credible. On the contrary, a “feeling” or interpretativist researcher would argue that unavoidably we demostrate our values at all stages. After all, choicing one topic rather than another, suggests that you think one of the topics is more important. For example, having such values as humanitarianism it wouldnt be rare if your research focus a nonprofit organization.

Your choice of philosofical approach is a reflection of your values, as is your choice of data collection techniques. For example, to conduct a study where you place great importance on data collected through interview work suggests that you value personal interaction with your respondents more highly than their views expressed through an anonymous questionnaire.

Heron suggests the possibility of writing your own statement of personal values in relation to the topic you are studying. The statement of values may be of use both to you as researcher and those parties with whom you have contact in your research. The use to you would be a result of your “being honest with yourself” about quite what your values are. This would heighten your awareness of value judgements you are making in drawing conclusions form your data. These value judgements may lead to the drawing of conclusions which may be different from those drawn by researchers with other values.

References

Williams, Robin Murphy. American society: A sociological interpretation. New York: Knopf, 1970.
Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.
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