A lingering thought of mine is how theory transfers into practice and the academic translates into the professional. The lines blur, undoubtedly, but it can get messy when the definition of “research” is turned into pulp on the open market.
If everyone with an iPhone is potentially a “citizen journalist,” many also purport to conduct qualitative research without the rigor and transparency routinely found in academia. Conversely, academic research is often too arcane to resonate on a broader scale.
As we’ve made our way through the qualitative research methods course, I’ve been looking for a hybrid that pulls together the substance of qualitative and quantitative research with the compelling style of real-world strategic communication that bridges between classroom and conference room.
I’m not sure that I’ve found it. But what I did come across was an intriguing example of how those elements can come together: A hot-off-the-presses “The State of Men” report from JWT, the self-regarded “world’s best-known marketing communications brand” (which I’d never heard of). While the validity of the methodology could be questioned, there is a methodology (quantitative survey and qualitative interviewing). The result is a confluence of data, analysis and stylistic flair that lands somewhere between research, marketing and checkout stand grist (the word “mancession” is used). Nevertheless, it provides fodder for communication inquiry, brand insight, cultural analysis and a kind of pop ethnography.
Even with its faults, I think it shows that academic-style research and professional application can coexist in a compelling manner.