Presenting Multimodal Data

Together these five modes of data collection and analyses provided the comprehensive portrait of American generosity that we share in the pages to follow. We employed a range of quantitative and qualitative analyses to attain both broad, quantitative trends and in-depth, qualitative understanding of the way generosity exists in real, complex American lives. Every chapter draws upon both the nationally representative survey data and the American giver case studies in presenting these multimodal data.

Nationally Representative Survey

In each chapter we first present the national averages and trends that we gleaned from the nationally representative survey data. With these data we also show how the averages and trends vary across different subgroups of Americans. For example, we show how the trends differ for Americans in different regions of the United States and different educational attainment levels. We reflect on these patterns and draw upon the interview data to understand how and why these trends happen the way they do.

Case Studies of American Givers

We selected from the 62 interviewees several exemplary case studies that typify the many findings about generosity. We selected these cases based on their capacity to qualitatively explain the quantitative findings and provide the context and meaning of generosity in real lives. Given the sampling method for the interviewees and their representation of key demographic characteristics, we are confident that these cases represent typical American lives and are not exceptional. It is important for readers to know that our statements about the case studies that we highlight in this book are recorded observations (either audio or visual recordings); they are not snap judgments or assumptions, but collected data. We do not claim that they represent everyone, but we think readers will see connections between these cases and people that they know personally, or at least those they know about more generally.

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