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Compare And Contrast How Content Analysis And Ethnographic Research Have Been Used To Study Children’s Understanding Of Friendship

1618 words - 7 pages

In recent years there have been a number of studies regarding how children perceive friendship (Brownlow, 2012). Children may have different understandings of what friendship means to them depending on their age or where they live. Two methods used in this field are content analysis and ethnology. This essay will illustrate the similarities and differences between the two methods through the work of two groups of researchers. Content analysis was used by Brian Bigelow and John La Gaipa, and ethnographic research was carried out by William Corsaro. The essay will show that although the researchers worked in the same area of study with some similarity in their approach, they produced ...view middle of the document...

So, although Bigelow and La Gaipa and Corsaro had a similar aim in mind when they began their research, they differed in that the former’s work was in an area that had hardly been studied at all, and the latter built on the previous work of other researchers.
Prior to commencing their research, Bigelow and La Gaipa and Corsaro needed to decide who the participants would be. They wanted to know what children’s personal views were, so a common factor for both types of research was that those taking part were all children. Bigelow and La Gaipa chose a large sample of children aged 6 to 14 years old (Brownlow, 2012). They all resided in the same city in Canada and came from a similar or identical social group. There were 480 participants all together chosen from eight schools, with thirty girls and thirty boys from each. The age-range was a significant factor to them because they wanted to study how children understood friendship at different ages and stages of their life. Using such a large number of children in their study meant that they could make generalisations about children’s friendships and how they develop over time. This data could then be applied to children as a whole. Corsaro chose his participants differently. The children that took part in his studies were about three years old (Brownlow, 2012). In addition, unlike Bigelow and La Gaipa, Corasro did not limit his research to one city, or even one country. He wanted to know what friendship meant for children at different times and in different places. Therefore, Corsaro studied children in different countries including, the United States and Italy (Interview with William Corsaro, 2010). By contrast, Corsaro was not interested in making generalisations. Therefore, he only studied small samples of children in order to gain an individual perspective of the meaning of friendship.
Both Bigelow and La Gaipa and Corsaro had similar approaches to the method they used for their research. Neither of them used controlled laboratory experiments. Instead, they opted for methods that allowed the children to speak about how they viewed friendship. Bigelow and La Gaipa used a method known as content analysis (Brownlow, 2012). This method involved asking each of the participants to write an essay about the qualities of their best friend and how their expectations differed from those of other friends. The researchers compiled a list of 21 categories that they associated with friendship and they counted how many times they appeared in the essays. Again, Corsaro did something different and used the ethnographic method. He would observe children’s interactions, making notes and video recordings as he did so (Brownlow, 2012). Corsaro, cited in Interview with William Corsaro (2010), felt that it was important that he did not behave like an adult would be expected to do with initiating activities or asking the children questions. He would wait until the children invited him into their group, whereupon they...

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