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Methodology versus scholarship? : Overcoming the divide in analysing identity narratives of people with cancer

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Distinctions between traditional scholarship and methodologically informed procedures can support unhelpful stereotypes which parallel that between qualitative and quantitative research. These can have a negative effect on the practice of social research in general, and textual analysis in particular. Drawing on a study of morally charged narratives of collective and personal identity in newspaper texts reporting cancer experiences, where gender politics are negotiated, I show how this distinction can be overcome in research practice. Quantitative analysis is shown to be useful in exploring text and generating insights, as well as strengthening generalisations from qualitative anecdotes. Automated text analysis using NVIVO and Concordance software can produce new “readings” otherwise hidden from view that can be followed up in close qualitative analysis. Thus traditional views of qualitative research as exploratory and quantitative as confirmatory can be overturned. Analysts of discourse can use automation and counting without compromising their capacity to think creatively about meaning.
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Keywords: collective identity; computer software; content analysis; discourse analysis; narrative analysis; quantitative and qualitative

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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