Knowing Your Text

  • Text is something that we make meanings from, for example, a tattoo, a book, a TV show, magazine, or even signs printed on a T-shirt.
  • The use of different approaches could lead to different understandings, even when studying the similar topics and sources.

When you are reading a text, always remember the following keys points:

  • Text is not absolute, no text can truly describe the reality in an unbiased manner, it only represents certain perspectives, part of the story or less accurate representation of reality.
  • There are differences in value judgements.
  • There are differences in the existence of abstract things.
  • There are differences in relationships between things.
  • There are differences in seeing things. (e.g. think about the controversies of the term “fish ball riot” and “fish ball revolution”)

When dealing with text in cultures we are not familiar with, people may respond differently to the text (McKee, 2003):

Why is it meaningful to know how others make sense of the world? 

  • It reflects how your research participants treat people around and how they respond to different things. More than that, it is closely related to our identities.
  • We tend to associate ourselves and others in groups and treat them differently, and the way we do it continue to change over time and contexts. It should be clarified that no one has full control of such change in sense making, and there are always alternatives to make sense of something in a culture.