Qualitative Research? I can hardly wait.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” 
– Proverbs 22:6

I got hooked on qualitative research while completing the M.S. – Learning Technologies program last year. As a social constructivist and former grant writer, I feel confident that the qualitative research methods would enable me to construct meaning from those social issues that most affect our everyday human existence.

I particularly would like the idea of conducting phenomenological research. This method would enable me to give a voice to the otherwise voiceless (Creswell & Creswell, 2017).

The Economics of Corporate Taxation and Unemployment

For instance, Zirgulis and Sarapovas (2017) studied the effect of corporate taxation on unemployment. They intended to investigate how changes in corporate income taxation affect unemployment. The researchers began from the construct that there is a “two-way causal relationship” between corporate tax rates and unemployment (p. 415). From that position, Zirgulis & Sarapovas used global economic data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank, and the Oxford Centre for Business Taxation to support their construct. The resultant statistical analysis confirmed for the researchers that “a rise in the expected corporate tax rate is associated with increases in the unemployment rate” (p. 423).

Based on their findings, Zirgulis & Sarapovas warned policymakers arguing against corporate tax breaks because the tax breaks are seen as benefitting the rich, should realize that arguing for corporate tax breaks could help reduce income inequality by reducing the unemployment rate (Zirgulis & Sarapovas, 2017).  

Zirgulis & Sarapovas’ work then supports the rational expectancy theory’s position that frictional and cyclical unemployment is natural and should be used to maintain an economy’s equilibrium. The theory espouses that interference in this paradigm would result in an unnatural unemployment rate that is economic consequences
(Zirgulis & Sarapovas, 2017).    

The Economics of Unemployment and Recession

However, Vlaev (2017) argues for a paradigm shift in this logic and cautions that normalizing an expectancy-value paradox that reaches so deeply into the hearts of human psychological explanation (p. 1) is dangerous. Vlaeu’s work supports the view that the relative expectancy theory should be applied within the local context and should not be generalized globally. Vlaev explained that cognitive, biological, and environmental human decision-making is based on the current and information available locally. Vlaev cited research that supports his argument that our beliefs, values, actions, and behaviors are grounded by what is happening in our own backyards (p. 5). Because of this, Vlaeu called for new perspectives regarding rational choice based on expectancy instead of reliance on undermining assumptions taken out of context to support and justify human behaviors (Vlaev, 2017).

Unemployment as Wasted Human Capital

Bruno, Tanveer, Marelli, and Signorelli’s (2017) work takes into account the human conditions factors. These researchers also studied the economics of unemployment within OECD countries and found the global recession that occurred between 1981 and 2009 hit young people the hardest. In fact, Bruno et al. opine that the developed world currently stands at risks of creating a “lost generation” of workers that have lost contact with the labor market. The resultant impact could be permanently and perpetually unemployment among these youth which would be a severe social problem. Bruno et al. advise that this situation could be avoided with sound economic policymaking now. The researchers recommend that the extended period of austerity during the last global financial crisis should be followed by effective growth interventions that provide young people with part-time employment and school-to-work programs. Otherwise, Bruno et al. warn, the developed world could find itself back in the midst of a global financial crisis soon (Bruno et al., 2017, p. 3384).  

Jennie’s Perspective

What does this have to do with how I feel about qualitative research? I think the missing variables within these economic discussions is the voice of the chronically unemployed. I want to ask:

  • How do they feel about the expectancy that corporate tax increases would contribute to their continued unemployment? 
  • What are their reasons for not finding a job and going to work every day?
  • Would they be willing to complete short-term school-to-work training programs in the hope of getting a good job if afforded the opportunity?
  • What has been the impacts to them and their households because they cannot, or will not, find work?

In other words, I want to know the “who and what within the midst of the inferno”. I want to ask them these questions to determine if they are the inferno or just near powerless victims forced to survive within it.

As I see it, qualitative research would afford me the opportunity to get up close and personal with the unemployed to answer these questions.  I am very excited about that too.

References

2Revolution LLC. (2012, March 1). The Future of Learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/xoSJ3_dZcm8

Calvino, I. (1978). Invisible cities. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Vlaev, I. (2018). Local Choices: Rationality and the Contextuality of Decision-Making. Brain Sciences (2076-3425)8(1), 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8010008

Zirgulis, A., & Šarapovas, T. (2017). Impact of corporate taxation on unemployment. Journal of Business Economics and Management18(3), 412-426.

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