Race and Older Mothers' Differentiation: A Sequential Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to demonstrate a process by which qualitative and quantitative approaches are combined to reveal patterns in the data that are unlikely to be detected and confirmed by either method alone. Specifically, we take a sequential approach to combining qualitative and quantitative data to explore race differences in how mothers differentiate among their adult children. We began with a standard multivariate analysis examining race differences in mothers' differentiation among their adult children regarding emotional closeness and confiding. Finding no race differences in this analysis, we conducted an in-depth comparison of the Black and White mothers' narratives to determine whether there were underlying patterns that we had been unable to detect in our first analysis. Using this method, we found that Black mothers were substantially more likely than White mothers to emphasize interpersonal relationships within the family when describing differences among their children. In our final step, we developed a measure of familism based on the qualitative data and conducted a multivariate analysis to confirm the patterns revealed by the in-depth comparison of the mothers' narratives. We conclude that using such a sequential mixed methods approach to data analysis has the potential to shed new light on complex family relations.

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