Special Collection 1 - Article 5 | Pages 143–174

Comparing, Contextualizing, and Conceptualizing: Enhancing Quantitative Data on Women's Situation in Rural Africa

By Enid Schatz

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Date received:20 Jan 2003
Date published:19 Sep 2003
Word count:8700
Keywords:Africa, gender, Malawi, measurement, measurements, qualitative methods


Demographic research mainly focuses on objective variables found in census and survey data. As demographers' interests expand to socially constructed phenomena, the discipline needs to incorporate new tools appropriate for understanding more subjective phenomena. The integration of quantitative and qualitative methods provides the opportunity to analyze data both rich in local meaning and generalizable beyond a small "N."
This type of triangulation is particularly necessary in the study of women's situation, an area where quantitative results have generally confounded demographers. Using survey and ethnographic data, this paper demonstrates ways in which qualitative data complements quantitative data on women's situation. I argue that such an iterative methodological process can enrich future investigations in this area by comparing findings, contextualizing quantitative results, and improving the conceptualization of future quantitative measures.

Author's Affiliation

Enid Schatz - University of Missouri, United States of America [Email]

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