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[Xmca-l] units of analysis?

Katie, picking up on your concern about units of analysis, it was one of the points I mentioned in my "report" from ISCAR, that this concept was almost lost to us. A phrase I heard a lot, and which was new for me, was "unit to be analysed." If anyone knows the origin of this expression, I'd be interested in hearing. It seemed to me that what it referred to was a "closed system" for analysis, that is, abandoning CHAT methodology whilst keeping the word. If I am mistaken about this, please let me know.

The other thing is that discovering a unit of analysis is an *insight*. It is not something that can be achieved by following a template, it is the breakthrough in your research into some problem, the leap. It usually comes *after* you've collected all the data for your research using some other unit of analysis. In Kuhn's terms, discovery of the unit is the new paradigm, after which it is just a matter of solving puzzles. So for graduate students to use the concept of unit in their research, often depends on the wisdom of teh direction they get from their supervisor. I don't know how many PhD students I've met who have got to this point in their thesis and discover that the data they have is not the data they now know they need.


*Andy Blunden*

Katherine Wester Neal wrote:
I like Holli's plan to commit some time to reading the two articles. But, as usual, I don't know that I'll have much to contribute in posts. I usually get deep in thinking about the posts and don't follow that through to write something. The writing is much harder, and I am usually just trying to keep up with reading!

For me, the thread has been fascinating, probably because I'm interested in different units of analysis, what they might be used for, and how they fit together with theory and conducting research. What are people doing with units of analysis and why? Or why aren't units of analysis being used? If anyone wants to write more in that direction, I'd be very interested to read, and I'll try to respond, although the questions might be as basic as these.

Lastly, Andy has basically been articulating my thoughts (in a much more eloquent way than I would) about action as a unit of analysis. In Mike's example about driving and thinking and writing, I'd add that the action is mediated. Together with sociocultural and historical factors that influenced those actions (and which, as has been said here before, are often difficult to get a look at), the actions create a picture of much more than just Mike's behavior.

Katie Wester-Neal
University of Georgia