Dramaturgical perspective: understanding everyday life

Erving GoffmanThe term dramaturgical perspective was first adapted into sociology from the theatre by Erving Goffman, who developed most of the related terminology and ideas in his 1959 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Together with ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism, is one of the most relevant perspectives in the field of qualitative research.

Before providing further explanations, read the following passage wrote by Orwell (1961) about his experiences when washing dishes in a Paris restaurant:

As soon crosses the door, a sudden change ensues. The set of his shoulders is modified, all dirt, desire and irritation are gone in an instant. It glides smoothly over the carpet with a solemn, almost priestly. Remember our maitre d’hotel assistant, a fiery Italian, pausing at the door of the room to address an apprentice who had broken a bottle of wine, shaking his fist above his head, screamed loudly (happily the door was more or less soundproof):

“Tu fais me – you are called waiter, you, a young bastard? Thou waiter! You are not up to standard to scrub the floors in the burdel where your mother comes from. Marquereau!

Then he entered the dining room and sailed crossing with plate in hand, graceful as a swan. Ten seconds later bowed reverentially to a client. And I could not help but think, as soon as she saw him bend over and smile, smile with that blessed trained waiter, that the customer was about to be embarrassed to have such aristocrat to serve him. (Orwell, 1961, p. 68-69)

Which are the theoretical assumptions of dramaturgical perspective? Life is like a theatrical performance. We humans adapt to the roles we play. But also, we try to convince others that we are the people we represent, like maitre d’hotel assistant in Orwell´s passage. And that´s why Clinton denies a couple times his sexual relationship with a scholar or, more related to our everyday life behavior, why many of us quickly get ready when having an unforeseen visit at home in the very morning, why we wear our best dress in a job interview, or why we try to make the best impression on our CEO when he/she drops by the office.

What does this perspective imply for a market researcher? A businessman buys good suits to make a good impression on customers. People buy the latest iPhone model to show that they are up to date with new technologies or acquire certain brands to show their commitment to the values ​​they represent. An environmentalist likely refrains from acquire a brand which does not show any sensitivity with global warm. In short, we buy things to play certain roles, as well as to convince others we are the people we want to be. Can your company help people on this venture? So by mean qualitative research you may know what roles your target wants to play in life. This information may be crucial for a successful marketing strategy.

References

Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life.
Orwell, G. (1961). The Orwell reader: fiction, essays, and reportage. Mariner Books.
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Symbolic interactionism: understanding consumer behavior

http://web.lemoyne.edu/~hevern/nr-theorists-ph...

Originated with one key theorist, George Herbert Mead, symbolic interactionism is, together with dramaturgical and ethnomethodology, one of the most relevant perspectives in the field of qualitative research. Which are its theoretical assumptions? Everyone behave symbolically. What does it mean? It means that many of our behavior, both verbal and nonverbal, are the symbol of something. For instance, shaking hands are a symbol of agreement in many countries. But does it have the same meaning all over the world? What is more, does it have the same meaning for a teenager than for an adult?.

Secondly, watch this video. It is an experiment leaded by Washington post. See what happens when Joshua Bell, one of the nation’s greatest musicians played in the DC Metro during rush hour.

Many passer-by in the video, with high cultural and economic capital judging by the context, would have paid good money out for attending one Joshua´s concert. However, just a few people seemed to notice his presence. What does it mean? Apart from differences according to countries and cultures, our behavior may be explained by the context in which people is in. In other terms, people give a particular meaning to particular context. What do you think is the meaning of DC Metro during rush hour.

What does it mean in terms of market research? People give symbolic meaning not only to such gestures as shaking hands or contexts but also to products. What does consuming wine mean in western cultures? What about eastern European countries? What does it mean for younger people? Perhaps, this product is seen as an older-for drink in comparison with beer. But we can be more specific. Which meaning people give to brand A and which one to brand B. In other words, what people think when see your product, the package, the colors or logo? Try to understand the meaning given to your brand by mean the different qualitative research techniques. The success of your marketing strategy may depend on it.

Reference

Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Blunter, H. (1994). Society as symbolic interaction. Symbolic Interaction: An Introduction to Social Psychology, 263.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited

Type of interviews (Draft)

After having answered the question “what is a market research interview” it is worth covering the different types of interviews. They may be highly formalized and structured, using standardized questions for each respondent, or they may be informal and unstructured conversations. Sanders et al (2011) distinguish three categories:

  1. Structured interviews
  2. Semi-structured interviews
  3. Unstructured or in-depth interviews

Another typology (Healey 1991) differentiates between: standardized interviews and non-standardized interviews. The standard ones are usually applied for questionnaires while non-standardized for more qualitative researches. At the same time, non-standardized interviews may be divided into “one to one” and “one to many” One to one may be divided into “face to face”, “telephone interviews” and “Internet and intranet-mediated (electronic) interviews. Market research interviews are generally referred to one-to-one interviews (one to many refereed to focus group). The most common are face-to-face although internet mediated´s importance is growing and growing.

Finally, interviews may be classified as to the sort of people interviewed (so called interviewee). The interest of market research interviews is normally the everyday activities. Whereby, people is recruited depending of social variables like age, gender of profession. However, as Meuser and Nagel (2002) suggests, it exists the so called expert interviews. Here the interviews are of less interest as a (whole) person than their capacities of being an expert for a certain field of activity. In any case, the attention in this blog and in following post will be put on non-experts interviewee.

Reference

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited

Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Meuser, M., & Nagel, U. (2004). ExpertInneninterview: Zur Rekonstruktion spezialisierten Sonderwissens. In Handbuch Frauen-und Geschlechterforschung (pp. 326-329). VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Referred in Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited
Healey, M. J. (1991). Obtaining information from businesses. Economic activity and land use, 193-251. Referred in Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Research perspective in the field of qualitative research

TsmyaA simple glance on the cartoon does not leave room for doubt. Whatever your perspective, whatever your research´s results. In the field of qualitative research there are several approaches. These are different in their theoretical assumptions, in the way we understand the object of study.  There are three mainstreams: symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, dramaturgical perspective. They will explain in detail in following posts. Suffice to say here what their essence is:

1. Symbolic interactionism. How individuals interact with each other and within society by mean symbols. In other words, what such gestures as shaking hands or leaning ahead mean for us and for other cultures? (See further details here)

2. Ethnomethodology. How people make sense of their lives? The order and harmony of our lives depends on simple but very rooted behaviors. (See Harold Garfinkel)

3. Dramaturgical perspective. What sort of person is behind the role we play? Your professor, your boss, your employee? Are they as they seem to be? This perspective assumes that our role depends on the context and the people we are talking to. (See Erving Goffman)

References

Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited

How to design a qualitative research?

“A research design is a plan for collecting and analyzing evidence that will make it possible for the investigator to answer whatever questions he or she has posed” (Ragin, 1994, p. 1919) This definition leads to a number of steps that every researcher must follow:

1º Formulate a research question. Every inquiry always starts by a question. This question represents certain problem. “Why unemployment is higher in southern countries than in northern countries?”Why my company sales have dropped over the last years?” As it was covered in a previous post, research questions are normally headed by a interrogative particles like “what is”, “what type”, “how frequent”, “what are the causes”, “what are its consequences”, “what are people´s”, etc.

2º Secondly, you must describe how you are going to collect the information required to answer the research question. Concretely, you should account for the techniques to be applied and sampling. Regarding the former one, think over which techniques best applied for you, interviews? focus group?, observation? (Have a look here to those posted earlier) On the other hand sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a statistical population. Bear in mind that such qualitative techniques as interviews or focus group do not require representativeness like survey does. In other words, the number of cases selected doesn´t allow doing generalizations to the whole population.

3º Finally, every research design should include a plan for analyzing data. If a quantitative design would likely include such analysis techniques as statistical test, absolute and relative frequencies, graphics or tables, a qualitative one generally deals with such techniques as categorizations, summaries, ranking of relevance (see here further info about categorizations here) However, take into account that in some cases, data obtained by mean qualitative techniques may be quantify. Actually, there are software as CAQDAS or Sonal (the latter is a free software) specially set to do it.

References

Flick, U. (2009) An introduction to qualitative research Sage Publications Limited

Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009

Ragin, C. C. (1994). Introduction to qualitative comparative analysis. The comparative political economy of the welfare state, 299, 300-9.

Why qualitative research? (Case study and solution)

The qualitative approach within the market research industry is of increasing importance. Why this approach is required in many occasions?

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...
Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, showing colour Shot with Nikon D70s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CASE STUDY¹. Imaging your company want to export Spanish wine to Poland. In this country, it is well known that either beer or vodka are more popular drink than wine, but nothing is clear about the Polish delight in wine, and even less in Spanish wine. For this reason, the company has contacted a market research agency and they plan to develop a telephone survey of a Polish population representative sample. Results show that just 10% of population drinks more than one glass of wine a month, instead of the 20% in other eastern European countries. Also, results show that the consumption of wine is less common in the group between 25 and 35 years old. The researcher seems to have a clear marketing strategy.

But something important is still up in the air. How to address this population? A qualitative approach has complemented the quantitative data by mean a number of focus groups in Warsaw. The idea of the research is gathering at least eight people between 25 and 35 years old that do not consume wine usually and another group of eight people at the same age who consume wine at least once a month. Questions as “habits of alcohol consumption in general”, “willingness to increase wine consumption”, “reasons to not consume” were asked. Below you can see some of the sentences that were listened to in the discussions:

“…I do not drink wine because I never know what kind of wine goes with each food…”

“…I have a feeling that wine is more for old people, and I feel young…”

“I do prefer to support Polish industry of vodka and beer”

“…yeah! and also for high standard of living people, I feel that beer is more…how to say…more akin to my people”

“…bottles information are not translated into polish so I do not even know where this wine is from”

“…I get drunk too fast! beer is more kind of easy-going…”

“…I really like wine but all my friends prefer beer so… I don´t want to be a weirdo when go to a party…”

QUESTION: WHAT MAKES THE QUALITATIVE APPROACH DIFFERENT FROM QUANTITATIVE ONE?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Solution

The quantitative approach is very important to quantify the reality. The representative percentage of wine-consumers in Poland or the frequency of consuming is unobtainable but by mean questionnaire or statistics. Ad hoc questionnaire may help us also to understand opinions and attitudes of people toward your product by mean opinion scales as well as including some open-ended questions.

However, three factors make this approach inappropriate when investigator sought a more detailed opinion:

1. Time: especially in phone questionnaires, the interviewees feel generally in hurry either by the surveyor or by him/herself. On the contrary, the more calm and tranquil atmosphere provided by qualitative methods as interview or focus group, encourages a major commitment and engagement.

Source: http://ehowton.livejournal.com/447571.html
Source: http://ehowton.livejournal.comou/447571.html

2. Interaction: while the interaction in quantitative methods in occasions does not even exist or is limited to a phone conversation, in the qualitative one, the number of interaction increases exponentially, allowing at the same time a major capacity to adjust questions and improvising new ones as the interviews progress. In the case of the focus group, the interaction is produced also among the members of the group which represent a great advantage of this technique, since many of the most profound opinions we have are just seen clearly by ourselves after discussing with others.

3. Depth of the analysis: quantitative approach usually deals with countable behaviors or resources: number of wine bottles sold in Poland last year, number of wine glass per week, etc. it hardly allow researcher gets know about emotions, values and beliefs. Making use of the iceberg metaphor, focus group, interview, but also the analysis of comments in forums or just graffiti in a wall expresses better than nothing our deepest view of the world.

Finally: critical reflection for a organization manager: What values do your brand transmit? Is your organization media strategy connected efficiently with your buyers? What is more, is your organization media strategy connected with your potential market?  Just when a company reach to understand its target´s deepest and detailed opinions, values and beliefs, the marketing and communication strategies implemented may cause a truly impact on the sales.

References

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.
Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.
Silverman, D. (2011). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.
1 This case is not real, although some of the sentences were taken from real cases

Getting familiar with the main research techniques for market research (Exercise 1)

As one semester student of qualitative method for market research (MR) you must bear in mind that attending this course is unlikely to make you an expert in this discipline. It takes years to become a professional of market research industry¹. However, both if you want to join this exciting career or if you just want to make use of MR to fundament your future decisions as manager, the content of this semester it is going to help you to get familiar with this industry and at most to allow you a major expertise in one specific technique.

This post has been designed as a initial step to get familiar with some of the existing MR technniques², before further explanations on the particularities of each (bellow some of them are linked to Wikipedia, so that you can meanwhile obtain further info on your own).

Please divide the bellow techniques into qualitative and quantitative. Furthermore, as online research is becoming more and more relevant, try to do the same between the online and offline techniques. The result should be taxonomy of four quadrants: quadrant 1, online qualitative techniques; quadrant 2, online quantitative; quadrant 3, offline qualitative, quadrant 4: offline quantitative:

  1. Online ethnography
  2. Visual data
  3. Telephone questionnaire
  4. Online quesitonnaire
  5. Online interview
  6. In-depth interview
  7. Self-administrated questionnaire
  8. E-mail questionnaire
  9. Online focus group
  10. Participant observation
  11. Secondary data
  12. Content analysis
  13. Focus group
  14. Ethnography
  15. Semi-structured interview

To see solution click on the imagePresentación1

¹ Many organization account for the today´s level of profesionality of this industry. For instance, the World association for market, social and opinion research

² note that technnique and method are frequently used as synonimus. However, it must be no-tticed that there are a slightly difference. For further details you can visit this site