From Qualitative to Quantitative Data
With the exception of the brief questionnaire asking for information about demographic characteristics, I collected only qualitative data. In several places in the text and notes, and especially in appendix В, I do convert these data into numerical form. All tables should be interpreted with a grain of salt. Indeed, a handful of that salt might be applied to the data concerning adoption of the devices under consideration in part II. Respondents were asked if they had ever heard of these devices and if they had any interest in using them. Although some respondents gave clear positive or negative answers to the latter question, most answers could not be easily coded. Many parents hedged in their responses: that is, they would start by saying no, they would not use such a device, but then introduce a qualification. “Well,” they would say, “if this or that situation arose, I would consider it.” Indeed, the line between a negative response and an “interested” response was often merely temporal (that is, respondents started out saying no and then moved into a consideration of the conditions under which they might engage in this form of surveillance). For example, Patsy Doria, a working-class single mother of one teenage boy and two considerably older children, said the following about the GPS tracking system:
I’ve heard of it; I heard about it when a friend of mine was telling me about her husband [tracking her]…. No I would not [use it. I should back up on that—/ probably would for the same reasons I would read his diary. . . if I were concerned about drug use or a predator or something where I felt he could be in danger. . . . Currently I don’t feel I have a need to. (Emphasis added)
The relatively straightforward categories of “No,” “Conditional No,” and “Would Use or Did Use” represent my best attempt to translate these complex responses into a tabular form. The text discussion of the kinds of issues that arose as respondents thought about the issues represents more fully the complexity of parental attitudes.