I write this journal is not only for class assignment but also for personal reflection. I send this writing to some of my friend and my family in Indonesia. I let them know how great of my journey to understand the qualitative research. So far, I have to deal with many difficult terms at the beginning of class. The new challenging is still going on in SOS 609 with Prof. Kalei Kanuha. Here my journey begins.
Once my professor said that mostly in American’s University when they were conducting researches or evaluating a certain policies they prefer to use quantitative approach. I just wonder why quantitative method becomes more acceptable rather than qualitative. It seems like quantitative has legitimacy by the government. I guess it is because most of the international institution doing research in Indonesia by using quantitative method. Unfortunately, my big weakness is in this matter. I am not good at all in numbers or statistic.
Now, I am taking qualitative class here in UH Manoa. I feel it is difficult to understand. What I am doing now is significantly different with what i learn qualitative in Indonesia. Here, the reading materials are too much and not easy. I have to recognize certain terms such as epistemology, ontology, paradigm, axiology, and so forth. Otherwise I will fail to know how rigor qualitative research method is. My qualitative class is very great, there are 12 students and they are very excellent student I guess. The classroom is so warm and active. I hope I can enjoy as much as I can. Moreover, I will be helped by reading material and four textbooks. They are really good books and good to read. I like to let you know those books: (1) Charmatz, K. (2007). Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide through Qualitative Analysis. London: Sage; (2)Kvale, S. & Brinkman, S. (2009). InterViews: Learning the craft of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; (3) Saldana, Johnny (2009). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; and (4) Silverman, D. & Marvasti, A. (2008). Doing Qualitative Research: A Comprehensive Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
To many students In Indonesia, qualitative research is no big deal. They usually do that as business as usual. They never think about some keys term like Epistemology, ontology, and so on. They just think that qualitative is easier than quantitative. There are a lot of people think in the same way in order to get the thesis done in the short time. Unsurprisingly, students in University choose qualitative just avoid the numbers and kind of statistic matter. They, as researcher, often underestimate qualitative and think that it is less quality compared to quantitative. I think they have made a very big mistake in looking at qualitative approach. (I will tell them later).
Unsurprisingly, government and some university in general give much more appreciate to quantitative research. Both of institution, I strongly argue, is very positivistic. That is why the qualitative method never seriously gets much attention even forgotten as a great methodology. Since several decades ago the developed countries come to the “third world” or under developed countries or nation, they introduced the quantitative method in dealing with the social, politics, and in particular economic development. A few countries succeed and most of them failed. They failed, I assume, is not because they are lack of knowledge but because they didn’t think alternatively. They seem closed the other truth or possibilities. They only believe in number and statistic from World Bank, IMF or international agencies.
When I was thinking about social and politics phenomena, I fell the only way to better understanding is by qualitative research with grounded and interview method. They definitely will help us to get better understanding the reality and analysis date. I agree that number or statistic will distort the reality because what I believe is reality is not homogenous but plural, not only things can be seen but there is lots of phenomenon unseen, and not only the number but also unaccountable phenomena. To understand the reality and what the ‘real’ is really strongly influenced not only by world view of researcher but also the position of researcher whether insider or insider. I do believe that. What I think, then, related to what I believe in God. He has been creating a lot of thing that we do not always understand or even see them. That is why I believe the symbol and cosmos beyond my mind (It also the reason why I choose my thesis topic related to symbolic behavior within Javanese culture in Indonesia).
Before attending the first class in this semester I try to understand what is the different between quantitative and qualitative approach as much as I can even I am not so sure whether I understood or not. I find out several articles in the journal online in Hamilton and I printed it out, read and highlight it in order to better understand. Both quantitative and qualitative I think have its own strength and weakness therefore I like some articles explaining the possibility of alternative beyond the dichotomy between quantitative and qualitative, explanation and numbers, or interview and survey.
Unfortunately, unfinished debate is still going on between positivist and anti-positivist. As social phenomenon are very huge in number and heterogeneous. It means we need many alternative approaches to recognize them. In so doing, in the second week of my class, we discussed about “epistemology”, “ontology”, “paradigm”, “methodology” and the like. We also got to know several different paradigms: positivism, post positivism, critical theory, and constructivism (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000)
I think, collaboration method maybe one of the best way to do a better research in the certain research question. I believe in it even I quantitative is better to me related to the problem solving in social phenomena. I named it the collaboration method by “third way”. So, I believe that the claim of truth and better of each other is over. As a result, I can start working in my topic and research questions. I hope I can finish my draft of thesis proposal within this week. Otherwise I will be hard to finish it later. I like this proverb, “the sooner the better”.
Finally, I try to keep in my mind and write some of introduction in thesis proposal. Nevertheless, I have to make it sure whether my topic and research question appropriate or not to be my future project. Eventually, I sent it to my professor in order to get some suggestion and feedback. Here is my email I wrote to her:
When Prof Kalei asked me “what do you want to know from your research?” I keep in my mind what my research topic about and what kind of research question I have. It is really not easy question to me. Research question is one of the big problems to me. However, I try to decide the topic related to the local politics and identity issue in the special province where I am from.
The reason why I choose that topic is because of several reasons. First, the local politics and identity topic of research are rarely conducted in Indonesia. Moreover, grounded theory is less recognized in many Indonesia students. I will try to get the grounded theory and interview work. Secondly, only a few people know the symbolic resistance in Javanese culture in recent modern society. In addition, Yogyakarta is very unique province with the monarch system in the democratic era—the King as the governor. Meanwhile, the others governor must be elected. It emerges the conflict between national government with its liberal democracy and the local in which the culture and traditional authority are still believed within society.
PS: Catatan ini memang edisi belajar bahasa inggris ketika sudah terpaksa karena sudah berada di negara berbahasa Inggris. So, jika ini memang style Indonesia memang begitulah kenyataanya saya di waktu itu di juni 2010. Honolulu yang ramah dan menyenangkan.