May 6th, 2013
Within a major hybrid qualitative project, synchronicities may occur within subjects’ households that appear to have no meaning at first, but pique the interest of the team, seem definitive, and lead to speculation.. even if off-topic. We don’t know what to do with these seemingly irrelevant but frequently noted observations. But they fascinate some of us on the team as much as the on-topic observations.
In a recent ethnography, we see an abundance of leather couches; a leather couch exists in many homes in this psychographic, archetypal needstate population. A leather couch, when probed, seems a sign of high quality, comfort, stylishness, modernity, yet has nothing much in common with the rest of the findings. This is a relaxing, amusing, not entirely obvious observation until it’s seen a couple of times by an astute team member. Some of us comment to each other after a while, during the next research debriefs — “and, this household has a leather couch, too.”
In this same ethnography, every household is religious in some way, more than in most ethnographic studies. In midwest and southeast locations, each household shows a different religious tradition: Muslim, fundamentalist Christian, reform Jewish, very Irish Catholic, Hispanic catholicism — with significant numbers of religious icons on the walls, scriptural Christian, Jewish, or Islamic sayings, evidence of prayer or observance, and kids’ connection to religious schools, or rite-of-passage rituals and teachings. Such synchronicities are repeated enough to make us notice, yet seem to have no direct connection to the subject, at least for now. We can interpret, analyze, speculate, of course, during analysis and here.
Although I cannot divulge the research study, these synchronicitous situations represent the fun of being aware of synchronicity as a subject in this blog. Meaningful coincidences may have only private connection (to me as cultural anthropologist or a key member of the research team in terms of how to strategically think about this project) — or a larger implication to the marketing and research issue under investigation.