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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Data Collection Methods for Project

I have changed my initial research question, as my initial question was not sufficiently clear.  The adjusted RQ is as follows:

RQ: How did  FBI Director Hoover's political direction of the agency affect the efficiency of COINTELPRO operations?
IV = Hoover's use of bureaucratic politics
DV = The successful use of a COINTELPRO program to degrade a subversive group's ability to harm a nation.

Politics can have a negative impact on a nation's security.  This is applicable whether the harm is done by expediting the development of nuclear weapons for religious fanatics or by the unsuccessful degradation of a subversive group.  By being able to analyze and explain why a subversive group was unsuccessfully confronted, the process of understanding how politics can interfere with security can be extrapolated to explain how other factors can hinder national security as well.

Underlying theory:
Bureaucratic Politics

The first set of sources I use discuss Hoover's use of bureaucratic politics.  These include Kessler (2003),  Weiner (2013), Gentry (1991), and Powers (1997).  There is a theme in the sources regarding the effort by Hoover to protect the FBI's public image and to more importantly, to protect it's "turf".

The second set of sources attempt at measuring the success of COINTELPRO in the two programs WHITE HATE and NEW LEFT.  These include Cunningham (2003), Drabble (2008),  George (1996), and Varon (2004).

The data collection methods I discussed in the Week 7 Assignment 2 paper are impractical to use in my research question.  The data sources I discuss above are secondary sources that are primarily based on case studies.  As such, there should be additional discussion regarding the use of case studies.  Flyvbjerg(2006)  begins his discussion of misconceptions regarding the use of the case study by providing it's definition from the Dictionary of sociology:

Case Study. The detailed examination of a single example of a class of phenomena, a case study cannot provide reliable information about the broader class, but it may be useful in the preliminary stages of an investigation since it provides hypotheses, which may be tested systematically with a larger number
of cases. (Abercrombie, Hill, & Turner, 1984, p. 34)

Flyvbjerg (2006) contends that this definition is misleading, and that there are five major misconceptions regarding the use of case studies, and these misconceptions can lead one to question the reliability and validity of their use.  These misunderstandings are:
  General, theoretical (context-independent) knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical (context-dependent) knowledge.
  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development.
  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building.
  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions.
   It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies (p. 221)

While Flyvbjerg defends the use of the case study by challenging these perceptions, Seawright and Gerring (2008) explain how to choose cases to study to achieve two objectives; random sampling, and variation within the parameters of theoretical interest.  They further explain that choosing cases randomly without stratification does not necessarily provide for a random sample.  They stress "purposeful" sampling while warning of the danger of selection bias.  The types and contexts of use of case studies that Seawright and Gerring suggest include: the typical case, the diverse case, the extreme case, the deviant case, the influential case, and the most similar/most different cases.

It is necessary for me to understand the use of the case study fully as my own research is based upon its use.

Abercrombie, N., Hill, S., & Turner, B. S. (1994). Dictionary of sociology (3rd ed.). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

Cunningham, D. (2003). The patterning of repression: FBI counterintelligence and the New Left. Social Forces, 82(1), 209–240.

Drabble, J. (2008). The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE, and the decline of Ku Klux Klan organizations in Alabama. Alabama Review, 61(1), 3–47.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 219–245. http://doi.org/10.1177/1077800405284363

Gentry, C. (1991). J. Edgar Hoover: the man and the secrets. New York: Norton.

George, J. (1996). American extremists: militias, supremacists, klansmen, communists & others. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.

Kessler, R. (2003). The bureau: the secret history of the FBI (St. Martin’s Paperbacks ed). New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Powers, R. G. (1987). Secrecy and power: the life of J. Edgar Hoover. New York; London: Free Press ; Collier Macmillan.

Seawright, J., & Gerring, J. (2008). Case selection techniques in case study research: A menu of qualitative and quantitative options. Political Research Quarterly, 61(2), 294–308. http://doi.org/10.1177/1065912907313077

Varon, J. (2004). Bringing the war home: the Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and revolutionary violence in the sixties and seventies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Weiner, T. (2013). Enemies: a history of the FBI. New York: Random House.

Kessler (2003),  Weiner (2013), Gentry (1991), and Powers (1997).

purpose of study
who studied
how data were collected
statistics used

Followup #1 – Bureaucratic politics sources

Kessler, a former Washing Post reporter, has written more than 10 books concerning the FBI and other security agencies of the United States,  His work has earned an award from the American Political Science Association.  His work has been criticized for being partisan, but only after a book containing interviews from Secret Services agents that detailed the activities of the Clinton family was published. However, he is the editor of Newsmax, a conservative news source.

Kessler's The bureau: The secret history of the FBI, is not a study, but a history based upon the interview method and using other historical sources.  Kessler did not compile statistics or reach a conclusion.  Even though this is not a study, it could be classified as a process of ethnographic interviewing as defined by Marshall and Rossman (2006), in which a system of questions is asked of insiders and organized in such a way that the cultural knowledge is brought forth.  Kessler did not have a purpose of study: he simply wanted to reveal the things that FBI agents uncovered (“Q&A with author”, n.d.).

As opposed to findings, Kessler's writing about Hoover and the FBI provide information regarding Hoover's personality and it's effect on the way that he utilized politics to advance the FBI's interests.

In a similar fashion, Weiner is a national security reporter for the New York Times; he has won the National Book Award for his work on the CIA, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.  There is no controversy regarding his work that I was able to find.

Weiner based his research on Freedom of Information requests and 208 oral histories that had been compiled by retirees; “It's a society of former FBI agents that did this and they started on this program about 10 years ago” (Q&A with Tim Weiner, n.d).  Like Kessler, this is not a study, but rather a history. And again like Kessler, Weiner's information can be utilized to gather data regarding Hoover's bureaucratic politics.

Gentry is best known for his co-authorship with the Charles Manson prosecutor of Helter-Skelter; his biography of Hoover has been judged as the “most thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and balanced study” (Goldstein, 1994, p. 109).  Although Gentry's work was a biography of Hoover as opposed to a history of the FBI, the information he provides perspective on how Hoover operated in protecting the FBI.

Power's biography of Hoover is the most controversial of those listed as sources. Powers, a professor of history at the College of Staten Island, specializes in American security issues and the FBI.  O'Reilly (1993) characterized Power's portrayal of Hoover as “revisionist”.   Powers does not give in to the widespread academic position (O'Reilly, Theoharis, Jeffries-Jones, Cunningham, Drabble) that the FBI was a “Gestapo” organization indulging itself in “oppression”.

However, Power's biography is not a study.  There is not a testable hypothesis or statistical comparison. Even so, the information he provides contributes to the theme of bureaucratic politics that comprises the independent variable of my research question.

The histories and biographies used  as sources on this side of the question fall into a category of narrative analysis.  Roberts (2002) makes the argument that while biographical research has been considered as less valid and less reliable in the social research field, that because individuals create the meanings of life which they then act upon, the interpretive analysis of these “subjective realities” places biographical research clearly into the category of qualitative method.

Goldstein, R. J. (1994). Book reviews. Perspectives on Political Science, 23(2), 109.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2006). Designing qualitative research (4th ed). Thousands Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

O’Reilly, K. (1993). J. Edgar Hoover and civil rights. Policy Studies Journal, 21(3), 609. http://doi.org/10.1111/1541-0072.ep9410121504

Roberts, B. (2002). Biographical research. Buckingham, UK. Open University Press.

Q&A with author Ronald Kessler. (n.d.). Amazon.com. Retrieved August 20, 2015 from http://www.amazon.com/The-Secrets-FBI-Ronald-Kessler/dp/0307719707

Q&A with Tim Weiner. (n.d.). Retrieved August 21, 2015, from http://www.c-span.org/video/?304522-1/qa-tim-weiner

Cunningham (2003), Drabble (2008),  George (1996), and Varon (2004).

purpose of study
who studied
how data were collected
statistics used

Followup #2 Measuring Operational Success

This assessment requires more data to analyze as a judgment on whether a subversive group has been neutralized or not.  A cynical observer can note that there is still a Klan presence in this country, and that many of the New Left terrorists now hold positions in academia and influence this country's politics and educational process.  So how can success in this regard be measured?

Cunningham is a professor of sociology at Brandies University.  His work has centered on the FBI's response to subversive groups (referred to by Cunningham as “dissidents”).  In this study, his purpose was to demonstrate how organizations “allocate repression” (p. 210).  Cunningham performs a content analysis on 2,487 COINTELPRO NEW LEFT in which he coded background information, type, and target.  Cunningham asserts that the FBI generated a system for “repression of an abstract class of target” (p. 234).  The major problem with Cunningham's work is a lack of awareness of the actual terror that NEW LEFT targets were engaged in.

Drabble's work has focused specifically on COINTELPRO: WHITE HATE.  He is a professor who teaches Human Rights at the University of California at Berkeley.  Drabble provides a historical narrative that relies primarily on internal FBI memos and contemporary news reports, although he also sources Keller and O'Reilly.  He does conclude that FBI action against the Klan caused a loss in membership.

George is a professor in the Political Science department at the University of Central Oklahoma.  American Extremists was written in order to describe the characteristics of extremism.  The book is a historical analysis that relies on a variety of sources; histories, news reports, and academic journals.  The information they provide regarding the extremist New Left and Klan can provide a measure of success.

Varon is an assistant professor of history at Drew University.  His book is another history.  His purpose in writing the book was to compare the violence committed by the New Left in America versus the New Left in Germany.  His sources range from ethnographic interviews with the terrorists themselves to government reports to histories and news reports.  I will use his information in guaging the success of COINTELPRO: NEW LEFT

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