To practice (1) – In Medio Stat Virtus


Fieldwork is disclosing to me the interconnection between qualitative and quantitative analysis. My original idea was beginning immediately with data collection and running revealing regressions. HOWEVER, a feeling of anxiety arose in me. What are the right questions I should design? How to define quality of education? How to fix a proxy for self-perception of the individuals? etc. Then, I remembered my colleagues at the Institute of Development Studies and ‘The White Man Burden’ (by William Easterly). The former, defending and trusting on the ability of people of defining their status, the latter dividing development practitioners in planners & searchers. I understood mine was a planning perspective, of one who knows a priori what is right and wrong, even without seeing it. One who believes development is an absolute concept to apply deterministically and independently of the context. I therefore decided to refresh my searching ability, now planning focus groups with students, looking for questions, not answers. This eventually will inspire me in the designing the questionnaires in a second stage, when I’ll let the numbers tell me a story. Somewhere I read economists believe god is that entity that draws great regressions in the sky. Now more convinced, I refuse fundamentalism, of every kind, in social research!

I dedicate my post to all my Japanese mates at Sussex University.

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4 responses to “To practice (1) – In Medio Stat Virtus

  1. Question is always more important than answer.

  2. Very good! I’m learning about fieldwork thanks to you!
    And you know, at some point I have had a similar feeling when working with data. I remember one day looking at a panel of households from an experiment in Honduras. Looking for outliers in the dataset, I saw some names, and then I realized that they, the numbers among I was searching for an story are persons who already have a house, kids, maybe a dog who helps them in the farming. And I wondered what were they doing at that moment, while I was looking at their story.

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