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Conference organizers from left to right: Jennifer Hounsell, Department of Sociology, Malanie Dani, Social Psychology Program, Deana Simonetto, Department of Sociology, William Shaffir, Department of Sociology, Dorothy Pawluch, Department of Sociology and Director of the Social Psychology Program

McMaster hosted 34th Annual Qualitative Analysis Conference

May 17-19, 2017

Apr 12, 2017

May 17-19, 2017 the Faculty of Social Sciences hosted the 34th Qualitative Analysis Conference (QAC) as the conference returns to where it first started in 1983. The conference is internationally recognized for spotlighting cutting edge and interdisciplinary research and has drawn close to 200 papers from researchers from over 18 countries representing over 40 disciplines.

Some researchers work with numbers and graphs, looking for correlations and statistical significance. Others ask questions that relate more to the lived experiences of social actors – how individuals construct meanings and experience the social realities they inhabit. Data can look different for these researchers. Data can take the form of detailed notes produced as a participant observer in the milieu or group being studied or transcipts from naturalistic interviews and conversations with people in those settings. Data can also take the form of journal entries, tweets, website content, news accounts, narratives, autobiographies, cartoons, photos. Any materials that have the potential to help understand some aspect of the human condition are grist for the mill of qualitative researchers.

This past May, qualitative researchers from around the world met as McMaster University hosted the 34thQualitative Analysis Conference (QAC). The conference included close to 200 paper presentations from researchers from over 18 countries representing over 40 disciplines.

"It’s wonderfully exciting  to be hosting the QAC", says Dorothy Pawluch, Director of McMaster’s  Social Psychology Program and conference organizer along with William Shaffir of the Department of Sociology.

"Especially since this is where the conference first started 34 years ago."

Pawluch explains that McMaster’s Department of Sociology is widely recognized for having played a key role in developing qualitative research in Canada over the past 50 years. “It seems fitting,” she pointed out, “to have older and younger generations of sociologists and other qualitative researchers coming together like this, here and now, to reflect on our roots and consider new directions for the future.”

This year’s theme The "Glorious Triumph" of Symbolic Interactionism: Honouring the Past/Forging the Future, reflects the contributions that interpretive theories, especially symbolic interactionism, have made to the development of qualitative research and on the importance of linking theory and methods.

Among the papers to be presented are those that address challenges in doing qualitative research, including how to work with visual materials, the relationship between observer/observed, researcher/participant, and ethical dilemmas that can arise. Other papers will present the findings of qualitative studies in areas as diverse as policing, illness experiences, cyber risk, deviant subcultures, race/ethnic relations and doing gender.

The keynote address, After Terrorism, will be delivered by David Altheide, Regents’ Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. Dr. Altheide, well known for his work on media and the construction of discourses of fear, will discuss the recent Trump victory and Brexit. Also featured will be a talk, Through Thick and Thin: On Ethnographic Explanatory Critique, by Dr. Sam Hillyard, Reader in Sociology at Durham University, UK.

The conference, funded in part by a SSHRC Connection grant, will be hosted by the Social Psychology Program and Department of Sociology at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel in Hamilton, May 17-19, 2017. Day passes are available for those interested in attending select sessions or talks, and undergraduate students can attend for free. Please visit  for registration and program details.

Below is a small sample of some of the papers that will be presented:

  • "Teens, Cyber-risk and Attitudes Towards School-based and Parental Surveillance"
  • "Doing it Old School: Looking to the Past to Explain the Present"
  • "Transnational Practices of Roma in Canada"
  • "Friendship, Fragility, and Contemporary Intimacy"
  • "Qualitative Research and Felt-Experience"
  • "Ballroom Dance: Performing Gender and Gender Performativity"
  • "The Ups and Downs of the Elevator Community: a study of a deviant subculture"
  • "How aging and old age is understood and practiced differently in Ghana: implications for theory and practice"
  • "The Ontological History of Graffiti: The Emergence and Futures of Graffiti as Evidence in the Social Sciences"
  • "Patterns of Motorcycle Theft and Experiences of Victimised Commercial Motorcyclists in Oyo Town, Nigeria"
  • "Increased Clarity or Continued Ambiguity? Correctional Officers' Experiences of Evolving Canadian Youth Justice Legislation"
  • "Employment trajectories of former prisoners with differing levels of work experience"
  • "The Crisis of Police Legitimacy and the Use of Police Body Worn Cameras"
  • "Fading identifying moments: Widows' negotiating their identity"
  • "Mine - Not Mine. How Female Escorts See and Experience Their Bodies"
  • "The autism family: contributions from a qualitative research"
  • "Empowering Marginalized Populations: Impact of a Nutrition Intervention in a Low-Income Community"
  • "Bliss"