Collecting Ethnographic Video Data for Policy Research

Joanne W. Golann, Zitsi Mirakhur, Thomas J. Espenshade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite growing recognition of the critical role of parents in children’s early development, parenting education programs and interventions typically have had limited impacts on children’s outcomes. To design programs and policies that are more responsive to families’ needs and constraints, policymakers need a better understanding of the lived experiences of families. In this article, we argue that qualitative video-ethnographic approaches offer an innovative and useful supplement to policy researchers’ usual tool kit. Taking a holistic approach to parent–child interactions and filming families in their natural environments over an extended period provides policy researchers with new data to inform future parenting initiatives. To assist researchers interested in undertaking a video-ethnographic study, we discuss our experiences with the New Jersey Families Study, a 2-week, in-home video study of 21 families with a 2- to 4-year-old child. This is the first time anyone has attempted an in-home naturalistic observation of this breadth, intensity, or duration. We highlight the potential of this method for policy relevance along with its associated challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-403
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume63
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Research reported in this publication was supported by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under award number P2CHD047879 and award number T32HD007163. Additional support has been provided by the Office of Population Research, the Education Research Section, the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, the Industrial Relations Section, the Dean of the Faculty at Princeton University, and by private sources. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Research Alliance for New York City Schools.

Funding Information:
There is precedent for creating a public access video database. The Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, consists of 20,000 videotaped lessons in six urban districts. Researchers can apply for access to these data, which are streamed through a Virtual Data Enclave onto the researcher’s own computer. The Virtual Data Enclave restricts users from downloading or copying files (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, n.d.), which protects the confidentiality of the data and limits the sharing of video in a public forum. For confidentiality reasons, we also do not plan to share our videos outside of the research team, though projects such as Boston Basics—an initiative aimed at promoting evidence-based parenting practices with children from birth to age 3 years—illustrate the potential of video for informing policy and practice. Boston Basics (http://boston.thebasics.org/en/) is in the process of developing a library of “slice-of-life” videos to help illustrate their five “basic” parenting practices.

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge Laura Di Panfilo, Kathryn Li, Boriana Pratt, Chang Chung, Madeline Eckenrode, Melanie Wright Fox, Aaron Gottlieb, Heather Kugelmass, Sarah James, Rebecca Johnson, and Catherine Thomas for their contributions to the initial stages of the New Jersey Families Study. We thank Kathryn Li and Alexandra Vierling for research assistance. The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Research reported in this publication was supported by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under award number P2CHD047879 and award number T32HD007163. Additional support has been provided by the Office of Population Research, the Education Research Section, the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, the Industrial Relations Section, the Dean of the Faculty at Princeton University, and by private sources. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Research Alliance for New York City Schools.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 SAGE Publications.

Keywords

  • policy research
  • qualitative research
  • video ethnography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (all)

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