Thematic Analysis and Theory

I sent off my ‘chapter sketch’ about ten days ago now and since then I have been working on developing strategies for my analysis. I have made some progress:

I looked through my existing files in the ‘analysis’ folder and it turns out that I had made a bit more progress when I stopped working in 2012 than I thought I had. I had (thematically) organized my discussion of my data into two main sections (chapters) and had begun to shape the coded data into a coherent discussion in one of these areas. Another sweet find in the mess of old files! What I hadn’t done, and what I need to do next, is to develop strategies for a closer analysis of the data.

My approach to this has been to return to the theory (retreat! retreat!). A couple of years ago I attended a workshop with Sally Wyatt, who was a visiting scholar in our department. It was extremely generous of Dr. Wyatt to do this and it’s something that I wish I had done more of in the past and would like to get the chance to do again. Dr Wyatt pointed out that even though I did a good job of getting into how I conceptualize blogging, I didn’t really talk about or unpack (I kind of hate that term but it is useful sometimes) my approach to value. It was very helpful and a bit embarrassing to see that I had made this (glaring) omission and it’s been on my mind since then to return to the chapter to address it. So…I have sketched my approach to value into three main questions:¬†First, how has value been taken up in debates over the validity/legitimacy of popular culture in scholarly work?

Second, how is value talked about in scholarly work on specific popular culture forms and practices.

And, finally, what do I mean when I talk about ‘value’ in a basic, philosophical sense? What is value? How does it operate?

In the process of working out this part of the theory chapter, I kept notes on any strategies or points of focus for my analysis. I’m slowly beginning to put together a list of ‘things to look for’ in my data. The next time I post an update here I hope to have put together a starting-point list and also to have worked out specific techniques for the analysis. I like the back and forth between theory and methods.

In other news, this week has been better in terms of not feeling so conflicted about time spent with family and work-time. I do think it is smart for me to be aware of how my experience is shaped by my social and cultural context and to think about what could be done in order to create a more supportive environment for graduate students with children and other family commitments. Perhaps there is something I can raise in my department or an initiative I could become involved with while I am finishing so that students who are starting out or thinking about graduate work have a bit more support.


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