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Memoing allows the researcher to elaborate on concepts and themes identified in the coding exercise. Memoing constitutes an important step in qualitative inductive logic where concepts derived from narrative data are used as building blocks for constructing theoretical arguments.

It is a good practice to put down initial ideas and observations while coding the data. A comprehensive, rather than selective, approach to memoing best serves the purpose for it helps to record a large numbers of patterns, issues and connections that can then be compared and contrasted later on.

The researcher uses memos to

The memo writing itself does not have to be formal or definite, especially in the early stages. Later on, memos can be revised and incorporated as text in the final paper.

Memo on a Short Excerpt

Interviewer: What did you do before coming to Canada? Did you work?

Laura: No, no. Women in our town did not work. Only those who really needed the money had their wives go out and work. Or if they were widows. Otherwise nobody worked outside the home. I had a brother- in-law who was from Abruzzi who used to say that in my hometown, the women were all "eaters of sweets" [meaning: did not work].

Memo: Laura explains how women's work "outside the home" indicates a family's economic need. Women's paid work is taken as a social marker of low class and status. When women are not forced by necessity to do paid work, it indicates that the family is well-to-do. Laura's brother-in-law's term, "eaters of sweets" suggests that standards of living in her hometown are high because families can afford women to stay home, and also to eat sweets. Here the housewife is associated with luxury goods (sweets). Housewives, therefore, confer positive status on family.

Note also that neither Laura nor her brother-in-law consider housework as "work." May explore how such a perception of the housewife contributes to women's personal identity.

Italian Interview #6, Laura

In this memo, the researcher explains what it means, "women in our town did not work," and that only widows and " those who really need the money" work. She points out the interconnection between the individual woman, her family, and social stratification. In the second part of the note, she observes the possible relevance between the notion of "work" and women's identity, which is the overall theme we proposed to explore.

Memo on a Long Excerpt

Interviewer: What was your occupation before marriage? After marriage?

Laura: I did not work before I got married. Once the war broke out, Italy was fighting against Canada you know, my husband said that I should get a job. At that time he was working at a place that made automobile engines. He made blueprints. They made a car a day there. I worked at the post office too eventually. Everyday of my life, I woke up at six a.m. I went to church, then come home and wash and get the kids ready for school. My husband used to get up at 9 a.m. I would bring him coffee in bed, and then he would get up. I made my husband's lunch in the morning. He did not want me to make his lunch at night and leave it in the fridge. I made his lunch and his morning coffee. He would come downstairs, grabbed his "suitcase" and leave for work in his car. My day ended at midnight or one in the morning. My husband had a car since 1929. There were very few cars back then. He took four men to work with him. They each give him a dollar a week for gas. On Sundays, I would wake up early in the morning, cook, pack the lunch, and we went on a picnic every Sunday in the summer. There were 7 or 8 families who did this together with us. We all brought food and we all ate together. Those were good times. It does not happen that way any more.

Memo: Here is an example of a husband deciding whether a wife should work. Laura talks about her detailed routine of reproductive labour for husband and children, particularly personal service for her husband. She juxtaposes his schedule against her long hours of work. His needs and preferences determine her work routine (e.g. not wanting her to prepare his lunch the night before; coffee in bed). This gives content and meanings to "work" in the domestic sphere.

Note that Laura says nothing about her own post office work. In contrast to the details about reproductive labour, her paid employment doesn't seem to matter much. What does this mean to the formation of her identity?

In contrast, notice how she stresses the importance of her husband's work (making blueprints for a car a day), and his class status (having a car in 1929, driving employees and taking gas money from them). Her work to prepare family picnic unites her family with other Italian families on a weekly basis. Depending on who these families are, the weekly picnic could function to strengthen the family's class affiliation.

Italian Interview #6, Laura

Here the memo points out the significance of Laura's detailed description of her reproductive labour. It identifies some of the forces driving her housework routine. The second paragraph pinpoints the relevance of Laura's silence about her paid employment to her identity formation. Comments on the husband and family's class status point out connections between the individual, the family, and processes of social stratification.

The researcher can use a memo to compare and contrast several segments of narratives. The effort is to connect data that may not have appeared to go together, or to elaborate on a particular thematic issue.

Extended Memo Integrating Two Different Excerpts

Women see the family as a collective entity and often devote a tremendous amount of time, thought and energy to ensure its unity. In Laura's case, her familial work includes a daily routine of cooking and coordination.

Laura: Everyday of my life, I woke up at six a.m. I went to church, then come home and wash and get the kids ready for school. My husband used to get up at 9 a.m. I would bring him coffee in bed, and then he would get up. I made my husband's lunch in the morning. He did not want me to make his lunch at night and leave it in the fridge. I made his lunch and his morning coffee. He would come downstairs, grabbed his "suitcase" and leave for work in his car. Italian Interview #6

An essential part of women's familial work is to recognize and accommodate family members' individual needs and preferences. Thus, for Laura, the work entails more than just making coffee and lunch for her husband. It is to "bring him coffee in bed" and make his lunch in the morning because "he didn't want me to make his lunch at night and leave it in the fridge."

Such deliberate care and effort goes a long way when it comes to mediating domestic tension and averting quarrels. Rosa's comment on how to "keep peace in the home" is revealing:

Rosa:…Everything we accomplished we did it together, like I'm sure happened with your parents, and basically all immigrants. Italian men are tough. The women are more passive, so that we can keep peace in the home. Even when something is wrong, you have to say yes. Italians are like that. A lot of times they share an opinion but other times one sees things one way and the other sees things differently. But they are not serious problems. Sometimes even if you are sure that they are wrong, they still insist that they are right. I just say, "okay, okay." What am I to do, start a war? As long as they are not serious things, we can get through it (she laughed). Italian Interview #9

Although Rosa categorizes Italian men as "tough" and women as "more passive," because "even when something is wrong, you [women] have to say yes," we need to be cautious about taking such a stereotypical dichotomy at face value. To a large extent, the Italian women in Rosa's narratives are not passive. In fact, they are the figures who "keep peace in the home," by maintaining a sense of right and wrong, by assessing whether or not the issue at hand deserves a real fight, and by purposely suppressing their own judgements whenever they deem the matter as non-serious.

Rosa's acute awareness of what it takes to "get through it" calls for a closer examination of how women see themselves vis-à-vis their husbands as well as their overall objectives as married woman. Laura's story of buying cemetery plots is informative in this regard:

Interviewer: What are Italians' attitudes towards the family?

Laura: Family is the most important thing to Italians. To have a united family is the most beautiful thing you can find. …

My grandfather interjects: Tell her about the cemetery plots. (She laughed, almost embarrassed, and then told the story.)

Laura: When my husband died, actually before he died… You see, sometimes the woman is sneakier than the man. She thinks ahead, while the man does not… My husband used to say, "I'm going to die and I don't know where you are going to throw my body." We went to an office at Mount Hope Cemetery. We bought plots for our kids and ourselves. There are eight places in the ground for us. I made up this thing, which was like a will. I told my kids, whoever wants to come, come. Once you're dead, you're dead. I bought for everyone. I thought to myself that if my children die with nothing (poor) they would have a nice place to rest. I could not just buy one for myself. Italian Interview #6

Laura's story of buying eight cemetery plots for herself, husband and children, and Rosa's willingness to say, "okay, okay," suggest that, in the family context, married women engage in a paradoxical dance that requires them to be simultaneously self-possessed and selfless.

The extended memo compares and contrasts segments of narratives from two interviews. Employing an analytical lens, it uses Laura and Rosa's stories to illustrate what constitutes "women's familial work," how such work is organized, what meanings women themselves attach to such labour, and how such labour should be understood in the context of the family's socio-economic status. Women's narratives are used to make "women's familial work" visible. In effect, it challenges the standard treatment that equates "paid employment" to "work" and "women's familial work" to "non-work."

The thread on the paradoxical dance between women's selflessness and self-possessiveness is further explored from coding schemes such as "other's comments and conduct constitute a referential context," "women's identity and work involves others; their identity is formed in a relational context," and "women's self is accomplished by de-centering her 'self', by serving and/or pleasing others."

By searching for the deeper meanings on how Rosa "[keeps] peace in the home," her willingness to say "okay, okay," and Laura's notion about "[woman] thinks ahead, while the man does not," the author is able to put together a far more complex and interesting picture about Italian women's self-identity. It ultimately subverts the stereotypical categorization of Italian men as "tough" and women as "more passive."

This example further illustrates the inductive logic in qualitative research. The researcher accomplishes theory-building by conducting qualitative interviewing, transcribing interviews, coding transcripts, and identifying and exploring possible research topics. These steps give the researcher a solid base to review the existing literature, and to engage in dialogue with other scholars in the field. Although the researcher does not move along all the steps in a linear fashion, the entire process does resemble an inductive logic that makes qualitative research distinctively different from the deductive logic employed in quantitative research.

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