Re: Help - Anybody in Edinburgh

Jay Morgan Philpot (
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 17:02:45 -0700

Devi wrote:
> Dear All,
> > I am sure Devi is one of the best person you can work with. He has
> > given me some good ideas and I enjoyed the communication with him when
> > I used RepGrid for PCP analysis for my research in the perception of
> > cross cultural differences in organization behaviour: a study of the
> > Chinese working in Canada. I am not sure Devi still remembers me but
> > it is important that I appreciate his ideas.
> These kind words, during a difficult time of transition for me, are very
> much appreciated. Thank you, Aaron!
> > I think that the data we get may overwhelm us. There are two ways to
> > go about sorting them out. First, by being rational is having all our
> > questions in mind and try to have the answers from the data. The
> > second way which I like is allowing the data to tell me what that
> > means. The pattern, the clusters and.... will give you some important
> > indicators for more detail study.
> An interesting problem, peculiar to Rep Grid work of all the qualitative
> techniques, when you think about it. Grids are numerate qualitative
> techniques! Somehow, when the information is expressed in numbers (rather
> than in words, e.g. focus group transcript work, NuDist textual
> analysis), the promise of all that _specificity_, and one's awareness
> that there are explicitly defined rules for doing things "right" as
> opposed to "wrong" in statistical analysis, can blind one to the issue
> that is in fact common to both qualitative and quantitative analysis,
> viz., the need for one's own personal judgement in choosing, amending as
> necessary, andpresenting results of, those analytic techniques in the
> first place.
> As regards presentation, for instance:
> Overawed as I was (and occasionally, still am) by accounts of very
> numerate factor-analysis-with-oblique-rotation-type work, it occasionally
> surprised me that the act of _naming_ the factors so derived (by
> definition, abstractions depending for their existence on iterative
> variance partitioning and subtraction) depended intimately on a personal
> judgement, the reliability of which was rarely checked as explicitly as
> the prior number-crunching; and that the resultant _meaning_ created in
> the reader was thereby intimately personal.
> So when Aaron says
> > This is normal to feel not knowing what to do in the first place
> > particularly when we have not been very clear in the first place on
> > what to examine. This is particularly so for qualitative studies.
> then of course I agree, with the reservation that it _needn't_ be
> particularly so in the qualitative studies. To admit this as a general
> rule would be to contribute to the view that "qualitative" is where you
> start (pilot work, not-quite-sureness etc.) and "qualitative" is where
> you oughter know what you're doing. Sure, the timetabling of many
> research projects flops out in that way, but it needn't be so: a
> competent, complete qualitative study is as valuable (and as vulnerable
> to idiosyncracies/"errors" of personal judgement, as a competent
> quantitative one: no more, no less.
> There's a way of looking at this which I find very useful: the notion of
> a "calculus", or symbol system for helping you analyse and conceptualise
> a topic. Analytic statistics is a calculus; equally so, a focus group is
> a calculus. The idea being that you can take a problem expressed in one
> language (e.g. verbal) and at a given stage in your thinking, express all
> or part of it in a different medium, the particular calculus you choose
> (e.g. analysis of variance; differential or integral calculus). You do so
> because you suspect that the rules according to which that calculus
> operates will help you to make useful deductions _more effectively_ than
> the initial medim in which the problem was expressed. Having cranked the
> handle of the particular calculus you've chosen and arrived at an
> end-point, you then translate the outcomes back into the original medium
> or language in which the issue was first expressed, and, hopefully, find
> that you've made useful progress.
> Here's where it gets interesting. Notice the _focus group_ example I used
> in the paragraph above? _Any_ symbol system with rules (in the case of a
> focus group, the role definitions and process guidelines according to
> which a focus group does its work) is a calculus with the above property
> of, potentially, easing problem analysis and resolution. Musicians
> compose in their heads and try it out on their chosen instrument, but
> find musical notation, with its rules and constraints, a valuable part of
> the process: musical notation is not simply an information _recording_
> system! Painters experiment with different media: they're not just
> "mucking about", they're resolving the problem of a particular idea
> seeking expression, by seeing what's possible within the constraints of a
> particular medium, which acts as a calculus for them before they return
> to their original medium for the finished work (indeed, the process may
> go on for years, with no single painting or drawing being the final point
> of resolution). You can express different meanings more effectively in
> one natural language than in another: so Polish might, for me, be the
> "calculus" in which I can think something through better than in English,
> choosing just the right word or phrase ("le mot juste": you take my
> point?!) albeit I might start and finish the process in English.
> (I wonder whether choreographers find that dance notation acts as a
> calculus in the same way, or whether it is indeed just a medium for
> _recording_ the steps of a dance once it's been composed by them?)
> Okay, so a calculus needn't be a numeric one; calculi exist across the
> qualitative-quantitative divide; across all media of expression; any one
> medium can act as a calculus for another in this way.
> And of course, a Rep Grid is just another calculus: see all the work
> that's been done by Laurie Thomas, Sheila Harri-Augstein, Mildred Shaw,
> Colin Eden, and others, on the Grid as an aid to gathering and refining
> one's thoughts in personal and managerial problem-solving: as well as all
> the applications of Grids in research work, in which it fulfils the same
> function in refining the researcher's thoughts about the topic being
> researched: the scientist as person, to paraphrase Kelly.
> I got off on this track by remembering some work I once did on creative
> block amongst painters and sculptors, using the Grid precisely as a
> calculus in the above way. If this interests anyone, the reference is
> below.
> Kindest regards to all, a peaceful Christmas, and a New Year full of
> contentment.
> Devi Jankowicz
> Jankowicz A.D. "Construing artistic imagery: an alternative approach to
> creative block"
> _Leonardo_ 1987, 20, 1, 39-47.
> Jankowicz A.D. "Construing artistic imagery: a reply to Osbourne"
> _Leonardo_ 1987, 20, 3, 297.
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