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Using Quantitative Insights to Supplement Qualitative Research on the Foundational and Debated Concept of Social Class

Case
By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

Researchers have long been aware that demographic factors such as class, race, and gender affect students' experiences within the U.S. education system. This case study details a predominantly qualitative project that focused on how students’ social class background patterned their experiences at a highly selective university. In particular, this case study documents several processes that unraveled unexpectedly during the research design, data collection, and write-up stages that are relevant to qualitative researchers: (a) conceptualizing a fundamental, yet fluid sociological concept, social class; (b) operationalizing this same concept; (c) grouping interviewees into categories, which at times oppose the interviewee's self-categorization; (d) enlisting a coauthor to move a piece to successful publication; and (e) using quantitative analysis to provide insights into qualitative data. In reading this case study, students will gain insight into the researchers' experiences and decision-making processes as we reveal a number of research design processes, obstacles, and resolutions.

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