Going deeper underground in qualitative research


Exercise: what do these three pictures all have in common? They all are about going deeper underground. Most qualitative research agencies use the depth metaphor when showcasing a new tool, method etc. It goes something like this: “The important stuff is underneath. And if you get there you’ll find the real reasons/ the truth/ the insights/ the million dollar idea. By using this we can go deeper than anyone…where no man has gone before”.

The good news is that I have a submarine. So I can go deeper than anyone :)) – only kidding.

The bad news is that all these claims are based on the assumption of a clear, objective, irrefutable truth. That if we dig deep enough, give enough time etc. we can find out the real reasons for which John buys brand X. But what if there is no actual objective truth out there but rather a series of truths with equal intrinsic value, the only difference among them being their utility at some point or their ability to generate consensus among the relevant people? (Rorty)

What if the old onion metaphor would better reflect our endeavours in marketing research? Would then qualitative research agencies claim they can produce more tears when cutting the onion? Or that their onion is sweeter?

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3 Responses to “Going deeper underground in qualitative research”

  1. I know. I am doctoral student myself and when I put this argument against the narrow down approach for research, I get weird looks. It makes my profs defensive. Trust me but I am repeating a course because I went into the bad books of a prof!

  2. Well, it seems that also on my blog, except for you, nobody toches this issue…not even with a ten foot pole. So I get why you’re getting the weird looks :).

  3. In etapele procesului creator (by Hubert Jaoui) 2 dintre cele mai “uncool” sunt pregatirea si incubarea. Ideea e ca acest proces poate dura cateva ore sau cateva zile. In primele 3 etape (ca tot se apropie primavara) incolteste ideea care va inflori in etapa iluminarii.

    E destul de greu sa sari peste una din cele 5 etape. Iti trebuie abilitati serioase de cercetator si “iluminator”.

    Astfel ca pentru mine, fie ca fac o placinta sau caut un insight trebuie sa caut multisor ca sa fiu sigura ca e drumul corect pentru evitarea obscuritatii.

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