Denzin and Lincoln 2003 Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials

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SECOf\JO

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Collect~; a

and

Interprt:.ting

. ualltatlve

ateri31s

ZJ\PADOCESKJ\ UNIVERZITA v Plzni

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INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD

SECOND EDITIOI\I

Collecting

and

-Intetpre,ting

-ualltltlve

1at ri;lls

eclitol'S

NORMAN K, DENZIN

University of Illinois at Ui'bana-Cilaillpaign

YVONNA S, LlNCOLl'J

Texas A&M Uiliversity

Barbara Tcdlock

Allthropology,

Stllte Ullil'ersily of Nelli Yorl:. ilt DII/falo

Patti Lather

EdllCdtioll, OIJio Statl! Ulliuersit)'

Nlichael A. Olivas Lmv, University of HOI/stOll Shlllamit Reinharz Soei%t,'}', Bralldcis Ulliui'rsity \X1iHiam G. Tierney Fell/GUion,

Unil'ersity

01

SOllthem California

Harrv \Volcott

EdllcatirJl/a;ldAnthropology, Ulliucrsity of Orcgoll

JVlcaghan l'vlorris

Hwnilllities,mdSocial Sciellce, University of Teclmo/of:,'J', Sydney

!Vlorten Levin

Sociology and Pofitical Science, Norwegian fJl/iuersity

or

Scicllcl! IIJld Tec/JIlology

James

J.

Scheurich

£tIl/cation, Ulliuersity o(TexilsatAI/still

Linda Srnircich

tVlJlIwgelllCII!IIlIdOrgalli:;:"ltioll Studies, Ulliuersil),0/Massacfl1lsctts~Alllherst

RobenE.Stake

Edlleatin/I.

Ullil'crsity ullllil/ois, Urllilll<i-Chilll1!Jaigll

David Silverman

Sociology,

Goldsmith Coffegc, IJlliut!rsity

0/

Loudoll

JaberF.Gubrium Sociology, Unir'iTsity of Florida Yen Le Espiritu Ethnic Studies, Ulliucrsil)' of Cali(ofllia, Sail Diego I'vlichelleFille Sociall'sydJOlog)', CityUniuersi!),of NeU' 'lori:.

ROS<lnll;l Hertz

Sociology ,wd\VOlllell'SStl/dies, Wellesley Coflcgc Patrici>l Clough Sociology illld\1/011I211'$Studies,

the GraduateCelllcl;

Cit)' Ulliucrsity of New YOTh

juliJllne Cheek f-IC<I!tfJ,

VIIII/CrSII)' ofSouthAustralia

ArthurP.Bochner

COlllllllllliciitiOll,

Unil'crsil)' of South Florida

Davydd Greenwood

Allthro/m!ogy, Cornell Un/uersit)'

Ivan Brady

Anthropology,Stale Ulliucrsi/), of Nell/Yor"- illOswego

Orlando F<11s Bore\;] Sociology,

N'Iliolla/ !Ju;ucrsil}'

or

Colombia

Allton Kuzel

Fall/ily fdcdicilll!, Virginia COll1ll11l1l1l'mfth Ulliwrsity

Ueln Kelle

[nstilllie (or IlItcrdisciplilhJr)' Gerontology. University of Vt!chta.

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Primed on acid-free paper

Prillted ill the Ullitcd Stdtes of America

IX 47 61 107 176

Contents

2. The Interview: From Structured Qllestions to Negotiated Text

/\ndrecl Fonlana and James H Frey

1. Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Resarch

f'·Jorman1<' DenzlnandYvonnd S Uncoln

3. Rethinking Observation: From Method to Context

fV\ichdclV Angroslnodnd Kimberly

.P,.

fv\d,/S de PCri:"Z

4. The Interpretation of Documents and Material Culture 155

ldn Hodder

5. Reirnagining Visual Methods: GaWeoto Neuromancer

DouglasHarper

Preface

!",)ormant\. Denzin and Yvonna

S.

Lincoln

Part1. Methodsor Collecting

and Analyzing Empirical Materials

KN070002425

lvbrg:m.:! H.S~3wtll

Cbudia A. Hoffm;m

Chris!ill;\Hill

I\'lolly Hall

!vlichdkl~eJnd IbviIbb';uri)'il C. A. !-loffm.m

Sagef'ublicati01l5,Inc.

1455TellcrRoad

ThouS:llld Oaks, California91310

E-mail: ordcr@sagepub.colll Acquiring Edilor; ['mlilielioll Eililo,-: Tl'peSl'ller: /;,dcxcr: Couer Di!SlgIIer: Cnl'erPh%gmph: 05 06 07 08 09 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 J 2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Collecting and imerprering qualitative materi:lb,/ Norrmm K. Dcnzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, editors.- 2nd ed.

p. em.

Includes bibliographic<ll references and inde:.:. ISBN 0-7619-2687-9 (Paper)

1. Social 5ciences-Rescarch-tvlcthodology. 2. Qualit:Hive reasoning.

1. Denzin, NormanK.II. Lincoln, Yvonna S.

H62 .C5662003

300'.7'23-clc21 20021566]3

Sage Publications Ltd.

G BonhillStreet

LondonEC2A 4PU

United Kingdom

Sage Publications India Pv('. LtJ. B-A1 Panchsheel Encbve POSt Box 4109

NewDelhi110-017 India

For information:

Copyright(Q)2003 br Sage Publications, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may berf~rodllcedorur~lizedin

any

form orbyany means, electronic or mechanic:!l, incJucltngphotocorYlJ?g~reC?rdlll?,. or

by any information storage and retrieval system, without permiSSIon li1wntmg

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17. Influencing the Policy Process \Vith Qualitative Rese3rch 619

C Pist

6. Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity:

R,-,,,c<>.,,-,A~e<· ,~" ~"1~;,,,,,.1

Carolyn Ellis dnd/\rthur P, Bochner

7. Data Management and Analysis Methods Guy\Xl Pyan and

l-I.

Russell BCflldrd 8. Software and Qualitative Research

Eben /\.

\X!cll:rnan 9. Analyzing Talk and Text

David Silverman

10. Focus Groups in Feminist Research

Esther

{Vladflz

11. Applied Ethnography

Ervc Chdl1lbc,s

Part U. The Art and Practices of Interpretation, Evaluation, and Representation

12. The Problem of Criteria in the Age of Relativism

John 1:

SiT'lith

and

Debordh I::.

Deemer

'j3. The Practices and Politics of Interpretation !'·lo'iTIJn 1<. Dcnzin

14. \Xlriting: A Method of Inquiry Laurel Richa,clson

15. Anthropological Poetics

IVdll

Brach'

16. Understanding Social Programs Through Evaluation

Jcnnilcr C, (:rrccnc

199

259

310

340

363 389

419

427

458

499

542

590

Suggested Readings Namt; Index Subject Index About the Authors

645 651 665 675

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Preface

For over than three decades, a quiet methodological rcvolurion has been taking place in the social sciences. A blurring of disciplinary boundaries has occurred. The socialscil~ncesand humanities have drawn closer together in aI11UtL18!focus on an :,nrerprcrive, qualitative approach to research and theory. Although these trends are !l0!'new, the extentto

which the "qualitative revolution" has l)vcrrakcn the social sciences and relateel professional fields has been nothing short of amazing.

Reflecting this revolution, a host

·Jf

textbooks, journals, research monographs, and readers have been published in recem years. In 1994ViC

published the first edition of theHalldboo/;:. o(Qllalitatiuel~ese'-lrch in an

attempttorepresent the field in its emir,=ty,torake srock of how far it had come and how far it might yet go. The immediate success of the first edi-tion suggested the need ro offer theHandbaa/::. in terms of threesep;:lI~Cltc volumes. Soin "1998 we published a three-volume SCt,TIJe Landscape

0/

Qllalilatiuc Research: Theoriesand Issues; Strategies a/Inquiry; and

Co/-lecting and Interpreting Q1talitatiue kIdterials. In 2003 we offer a ne\v

three-volume set, based on the second edition of the handbook.

In 2000 we published the second edition of theHandbook. Although it became abundantly clear that the "fiel

d"

of qualitative research is still defined primarily by tensions, contradictions, and hesitations-and thar they exist in a less-than-unified arena--we believed that the handbook could and would be valuable for solidifying, interpreting, andorgclllizing

the field in spite of the essential differences that characterize it.

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COllECTIHG AHD IHTERPRETII'IG QUALITATIVE MATERLb,LS

edition, vve asked how the practices of qU:.llitative inquiry could be used to ~JJress;,,::;Ul.'Sof cqu;ry and ot~oci~ljustice.

We have been enormously gratified and heartened by the response to theI-hl1ldhoo!~since its publication. Especia1!y grJtifying has been that it has been used and adaptedbysuch a \vicle variety of scholars and graduate students in precisely the way we had hoped: as2starring point, a spring-board for new thought and new work.

'" The Paperback Project

The second edition of theLandscape Series of the Halldbook ofQflalitatiue Research is virtually all new. Over half of the authors from the first edition

have been replaced by new contributors. Indeed, there 3fe33new chapter authors or co-authors. There are six totally new chapter topics, including contributions on queer theory, performance cthnography, testimonio,

focus groups in feminist research, applied ethnography, and anthropologi-cal poetics. All returning authors have subswotially revised their original contributions, in many cases producing totally nev\' chapters.

The second edition· of thcj-]alldbooh. OfQlwlilatiue Research continues

where the first edirion ended. \YJith Thomas Schw'lJ1dt (Chapter 7, Volume 1), we Illay observe that qualitative inquiry, among other things, is the name for a "reformist movement that began in the early 1970s in the acad-emy." The interpretive and critical paradigms, in their multiple forms, are central to this movement. Indeed, Schwandt argues that this movement encompasses multiple paf<ldigmatic formulations. It also includes com-plex epistemological and ethical criticisms of traditional social science re-search. The movement now has its OWI1journals, scientific associations,

conferences, and faculty positions.

The transformations in the field of qualitative research that were raking place in the early 1990s continued ro gain momentum as we entered the ne\v century. Today, fevl'· in the interpretive c01l1munity look back \vith skepticism on the narrative turn. The turn has been taken, and that is all there istosay about iLl'v'la.l1V have now told their tales from the field. Fur-ther, today

\~'e

know that

n~en

and women write culture differenrly, and that writing itself is not ;1n innocent practice.

Experimental ways of writing firsr-person ethnographic texts are now commonplace. Sociologists and anrhropologists continue to explore new

Preface

ways of composing ethnography, and many write fiction, drama,

perfor-n1nllCetexts, and ethnographic poetry_ S(,cial science journals hold fiction

comests. Civic journalism shapes calls for a civic, or public, ethnography. There is a pressing need ro shO\v how the practices of qualitative re-search can heIp change the world in positive ways. So, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is necessary rooe-engage the promise of qualita-tive research as a generaqualita-tive form of inguTy (Peshkin, 1993)and as a form of radical democratic practice. This is tht: agenda of the second edition of

the Landscape Series, as it is for the se':ond edition of the Handbook;

!lamely ro show how the discourses of qualitative research can be usedto help imagine and create a free, democratic society. Each of the chapters in the three-volume set takes up this project, in one way or another.

A handbook, we were told by our publisher, should ideally represent the distillation of knowledge of a field, a benchmark volume that synthe-sizes an existing literature, helping to ddine and shape the presenr and future of that discipline. This mandate organized the second edition. In metaphoric terms, if you were co take one book on qualitative research with youtoa desert island (or for a comprehensive graduate examination), a handbook would be the book.

\YJe decided that the part structure of the Handbook could serve as 3

lIseful point of departure for the organization of the paperbacks. Thus Volume 1, titled The Landscape of QIU!litatiue Research: Theories alld

Issues, rakes a look at the field from a breadly theoretical perspective and

is composed of theHalldbook's Parts I ("Locating the Field"), II

("Para-digms and Perspectives in 1i'ansition"), and VI ("The Future of Qualitative Research"). Volume 2, titled Strategies ol Qlwlitatiue Inquiry, focuses

on just that and consists of Pan HI of theHandbook. Volume3,tided Col-lecting and hlterpreting Qualitatiue A1aferials, considers the tasks of

col-lecting, analyzing, <md interpreting empirical materials and comprises the

Handbook's Pans IV (,'lVlethods of Collecting and Analyzing Empirical

IV1aterials") and V ("The Art and Practices of Interpretation, Evaluation, and Representation").

As with the first edition of theLandsC(!pe series, we decided that

noth-ing should beCutfrom the originalHandhook. Nearly everyone we spoke

ro \\'110 used the Handbook bad his or her own way of using it, leaning

heavily on certain chapters and skipping others altogether. Bur there was consensus that this reorganization made a great deal of Sense both peda-gogically 30d economically. We and Sage are committed to making this

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COLLECTlHG AHD IHTERPRETIHG QUALITATIVE MATERIALS

iteration of theHandboo/(.accessible for classroom usc. This commitment

:, ,efLceed ;n

tl,e

"70, org.'lIliZ:1tioll,

dnO

nrice

of

[he

paperbacks, as well

as

in the addition of end-of-book bibliographies.

It also became clear in our conversations with colleagues who used the

Hmldbool:..

that the single-volume, harel-cover version has a distinct place and value, and Sage will keep the original version~1Vai1ableuntil a revised edition is published.

'¢" Organization of This Volume

Collecting Lind Illterpreting Qualitative J\ilateril1/sintroduces rhe researcher

to basic methods of gathering, analyzing, and interprering qualitative empirical materials. Parr 1moves from intervicwingtoobserving; to the use of artifacts, documcnts, and records from thc past; to visual and auto-ethnographic methods. Itthen rakes up analysis methods, including com-puter-assisted mcthodologics, as \vell as strategies for analyzing talk and text. Esther Madriz reads focus groups through critical feminist inquiry, and Erve Chambers discusses applied ethnography.

<$' Acknowledgments

Ofcourse, this book would not exist without its authors or the editorial board mcmbers for theHalldboohon which it is based. These individuals were able to offer barh long-rerm sustained commitments to the project and shorr-term emergency assistance.

In addition, we would like to thank the following individuals and insti-tutions for their clssistance, support, insights, and patience: our respective universities and depanmellls, as \'\Jell as Jack Bratich, Ben Scott, Ruoyun Bai, and Francyne Huckaby, our respective graduate students. \Vithour them, we could never have kept this project on COllrse. There are also sev-eral peopletothank at Sage Publications. \YJe thank Ivlargaret Seawell, our new editor; this three-volume version of the I-1a/ldboohwould not have been possible \vithout lvlargaret's wisdom, S\1pporr, humor, and grasp of the field in all its C\1rrem diversity.

As always, we apprccbre the efforts of Greg Daurelle, the director of books marketing at Sage, along with his staff, for their indehtigable efforts in getting the

w~1rd

our about the

Hondboot:

to teclchers, researchers, and

Preface

methodologists around the world. Claudia Hoffman was essential in mov-ing the series through production; we arc also grateful to the copy editor, Judy Selhorsr, andto those whose proolreading and indexing skills were so cemraltothe publication of theHandbook.Onwhich these volumes are

based. Finally, as ever, we thank our spouses, Katherine Ryan and Egan Guba, for their forbearance and constaLt support.

The idea for thisthree~volumepaperl::ack version of theHandbookdid not arise in a vacuum, and we are grateful for the feedback we received from countless teachers and students.

-Norman K. Denzin

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

- Yvonna S. Lincoln

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1

Introduction

The Discipline and

Practice ofQualitative Research

Norman

J<.

Denzin and Yvonna

S. Lincoln

Qu::l1itarive research has a long, distinguished, and sOl1lcl'lmcs ~m­

gllished history in the human disciplines. In sociology, the vvork of the "Chicago school" in the 19205 and 19305 established the impor-tance of qualitative inquiry for the sruc1/ of human group life. In anthro-pology, during the same rime period, 1"I1C discipline-defining studies of

Boas, JVlead, Benedict, Bateson, Evans-Pritchard, Radcliffe-Brown, and Malinovvskichancel the omlines of the fieldwork method (sec Gupta &

Ferguson, 1997; Stocking, 1986, 1989). The agenda was clear-cut: The

observer wcnr to a foreign setting to t:tudy the customs clOd habits of another society and culrure (see in Volume 1, Vidich& Lyman, Chapter 2; Tedlock, Volume 1, Chapter 6; see also Rosaldo, 1989, pp. 25-45, for criti-cisms of this tradition). Soon,

qualitativ,~

research would be employed in other social and behavioral science disciplines, including education (espe-cially the work of Dewey), history, political science, business, medicine, nursing, social work, and communicatie.ns.

In the opening chapter in Part I of Volume 1, Vidich and Lyman chan many key features of this history. In

thi~;

now classic analysis, rhey note,

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COLLECTlt,IGNWIt>.JTERPRETIHG QUALITATIVE MATERIALS

with some irony, that qualitative research in sociology and anthropology

"',,:.11::

"born our of

COl1cel'n

to

t1nder~t~md

the

;other.~

;, Furthermore, this

other was the exotic other, a primitive, nonwhite person from a foreign culture judgedto be less civilized than th,n of the researcher. Of course, there were colonialists long before there were anthropologists. Nonethe-less, there would be no colonial, and now no postcolonial, history were it not for this investigative mentality that turned thedarl{~skinnedother into the object of the ethnographer's gaze.

Thus does bell hooks (1990, pp. 126-128) read the famous photo that appears on the cover ofW!riting Culture (Clifford& IVlarcus, 1986) as an instance of this menraliry (see also Behar, 1995, p. 8; Gordon, 1988). The photo depicts Stephen'~vlerdoing fieldwork in India. Tyler is seated some distance from three dark~skinnedpersons. 1\child is poking his or her head out of a ll3.sker.1\woman is hidden in the shadows of a hur. A man, a checkered white-and-black shaw! across his shoulder, clbow propped On his knee, hand resting along the side of his face, is staring at 'T)'ler. Tyler is writing in a field journaL A piece of white doth is attached to his glasses, perhaps shielding him from the sun. This patch of whiteness l11<lrks lyler as the white male \vriter studying these passive brown and black persons. Indeed, the brown male's gaze signals some desire, or some attachment to Tyler. In contrast, the female's gaze is complctely hiddcnby the shadows ,mel by the words of the book's title, which cross het face (hooks, 1990, p. 127). And so this cover photo of perhaps the most influential book011

ethnography in the last half of the 20th cemury reproduces "two ideas that are quite fresh in the racist imagination: the notion of the white male as writer/authority ... and the idea of the passive bnnvn/bJack man [and woman and child] who is doing nothing, merely looking on" (hooks,

1990, p, 127),

In this imroductory chapter, we will define the field of qualitative search and then navigate, chart, and review the history of qualitative re-search in the human disciplines. This \vill allow us to locate this vol-ume and its coments within their historical moments. (These historical moments are somewhat artificial; they arc socially constructed, quasi-historical, and overlapping conventions. Nevertheless, they permit a ';per-formancc" of developing ideas. They also facilitate an increasing sensitiv-ity to and sophisticarion about the pitfalls;mo promises of ethnography and qualitative rcscc1rch.) \Y/e will present a conceptual framework for reading the qualitative research act as a multicultural, gendered pro-cess, ,mel then provide brief introduction ro the chapters thar follow.

Introduction

Returning to the observations of Vidich and Lyman as well as those of books;, we will conclude withDobrief discussion of qualitative research and

critical race theory (see also in Volume 1, Ladson-Billings, Chapter 9; and in this volume, Dcnzin, Chapter 13). As we indicate in our preface, we use the metaphor of the bridgetostructurewh~;tfollows. \Ve see this volume as a bridge connecting historical moments, research methods, paradigms, and communities of interpretive scholars.

'" Definitional Issues

Qualitative research is a field of inquiry in its own right. It crosscuts dis-ciplines, fields, and subjecr matters.IA complex, interconnected family of

terms, concepts, and assumptions surround the termqualitative research.

These include the traditions associated with foundationalism, positivism, postfoundationalism, postpositivism, poststrucruralisrn, and the many qualitative research perspectives, and/or methods, connectedto cultural and interpretive studies (the chapters in Parr II of Volume 1 take up these paradigms).:>' There are separate and detailed literatures on the many meth-ods and approaches that fall under the cai'l~goryof qualitative research, such as case study, politics and ethics, participatory inquiry, interviewing, participant observation, visual methods, and interpretive analysis.

In North America, qualitative research operates in<1complex historical

field that crosscuts seven historical momems (we discuss these moments in detail below). These seven moments overlap and simultaneously oper-a[c in rhe present.3\"X'e define them as the rraditional (1900-1950); the

modernist or golden age (1950-1970); blurred genres(1970-1986); the

crisis of representation (1986-1990); the postmodern, a period of experi-mental and new ethnographies (1990-199.i); posrexperiexperi-mental inquiry (1995-2000); and the future, which is now (2000-). The future, the sev-enth moment, is concerned with moral discourse, with thc development of sacred rextualities. The sevenrh moment asks that the social sciences and the humanities become sites for critical conversations about democracy, race, gender, class, nation-states, globalization, freedom, and cornmunitl-,.

The postmodern moment was defined in part by a concern for litera"rv and rhetorical tropes and the narrative turn,.} concern for storytelling, fo'r composing ethnographies in new ways (ElLs & Bochner, 1996). Laurel Richardson (1997) observes that this moment was shaped by a new sen-sibility, by doubt, by a refusal to privilege any method or theory (p. 173).

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COLLECT1HG AHD l\,lTERPRETIHG QUALITATIVE MATERIALS

But now, at the beginning of the 21st cenrury, the narrative turn has been ",hn. Many [,ovo learned how to write differently, including how to locate themselves in their (CXts. \YJe now struggle to connect qualitative research to the hopes, needs, goals, ;:mel promises of a free democratic society.

Successive W3ves of epistemological theorizing move across these seven moments. The traditional period is associated with the positivist, foun-dational paradigrn. The modernist or golden 3ge and blurred genres moments are connectedtothe appearance of postpositivist arguments. At the same time, a variety of new interpretive, qualitative perspectives were taken up, including hermeneutics, structuralism, semiotics, phenomenol-ogy, cultural studies, and feminisl11.-1In the blurred genres .phase, the

humanities became cemr;]1 resources for critical, interpretlve theory, and for the qualitative research project broadly conceived. The rescm:cher became a brieolclIr (see below), learning how to borrow from many

dIffer-ent disciplines. . .

The blurred genres phase produced the next stage, the CrISIS of repre-sentation. Here rcseMchers struggled with howtolocate themselves and their subjccts in reflexive texts. A kind of methodological diaspora rook place, a two-way exodus. Humanists migrated to the social scienc~s, searching for new social theory, new ways to study popular culturea~~ItS

local, ethnographic contexts. Social scientists turned ro the humant~les, hopingtolearn howtodo complex structural and poststructural readings of social texts. From the humanities, social scientists also learned ho,:'to produce texts thar refusedlObe read in simplistic, linear, incontrovertIble tcrms. The line between text and context blurred. In the postJ11odern experimental moment researchers continued to move away from.foun~ dational and quasi-founcbtional criteria (see in this volume, Sl11lth &

Deemer. Chapter J 2. and Richardson, Chapter 14; and in Volume 1, Gergen'& Gergen, Chapter 13). Alternative evaluative criteria

we~e

sought, criteria that might prove evocative, moral, critical, and rooted111

local understandings.

Any definition

l;r

qualitative research must work within this complex historical field. Ollafitatiue research means different things in each of these moments.

N()n~'heless,

an initial, generic definition can be offered: Quali-tative research is a silUated activity thJt locates the observer in the world. lt consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These praC[ices transform the "vodel. They turn the world i~ro a series of reprcsc!1wtions. including field nares, interviews, conversatIOns,

Introductio.1

phorographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative resean.:her:::; :;tuuy things in their natural settings, attemptingtomake sense of, Orto interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. s

Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials-case study; perwnal experience; introspection; life story; interview; artifacts; cultural texts and productions; observa-tional, historical, interacobserva-tional, and visnal texts-that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings,n individuals' lives. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy a wide ran:s:e of interconnected interpretive pnlCtices, hoping alwaystoget a better understanding of the subject mat-terathane!' It is understood, however, that each practice makes the world

visible in a different way. Hence there is fTquently a commitmenttousing more than one interpretive practice in any study.

The Qualitative Researcher as Bricoleur and Quilt Maker

The qualitative researcher may take on multiple and gendered im-ages: scientist, naturalist, field-worker, journalist, social critic, artist, per-former, jazz musician, filmmaker, quilt maker, essayist. The many meth-odological practices of qualitative research may be viewed as soft science, journalism, ethnography, bricolage, quilt making, or montage. The re-searcher, in turn, may be seen as a brieoleur, as a maker of quilts, or, as in filmmaking, a person who assembles images into montages. (On montage, See the discussion below as well as Cook, 1981, pp. 171-177; Monaco, 1981, pp. 322-328. On quilting, see hooks, 1990, pp. 115-122; Wolcott, 1995,pp, 31-33.)

Nelson, Treichler, and Grossberg (J992), Levi-Strauss (1966), and Weinstein and Weinstein (1991) clarify the meanings of brieolage and

bri-eo/eur.6A brieoleur is a "Jack of all trades or a kind of professional

do-it-yourself person" (Levi-Strauss, 1966, p. 17). There are many kinds of brieo/curs-interpretive, narrative, theoretical, political (see below). The in_terpretive bricoleur produces a

brieoh~ge-that

is, a pieced-together set ot representations that are fitted to the specifics of a complex situation. "The solution [bricolage) which is the

re~:lIlt

of the brieolcur's method is an

[emergent] construction" (Weinstein S: Weinstein, 1991, p. 161) that

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COLlECflt'IG /.\1'-ID It'lTERPRETIHG QUALITATtVE MATERtALS

But now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the narrative turn has been taken. lVIanv hJve learned how to write differently, including hm\' ro locare them~e1vesin their texts. \\le now struggle toconnect qualitative research to the hopes, needs, gO<lls, and promises of a free democratic soclery.

Successive waves of epistemological theorizing move JCross these seven moments. The traditional period is associated with the positivist, foun-darional panldigm. The modernist or golden Jge and blurred genres moments arc connccted to the appearance of postpositivist arguments. At the same time,'Jvmiety of new interpretive, qualitative perspectives wcre

takcn up, including hermeneutics, structuralism, semiotics, phenomenol-ogy, cultural studies, and feITlinism.~ In the blurred genres .rInse, the humanities becamc central resources for cririeal, interprenve theory, and for the qualitative rese.Jrch project broadly conceived. Theresea~cher became a bricolellr (see below), learning how ro borrmv from many

dIffer-ent disciplines. . .

The blurred genres phase produced the next stage, the cnsls of repre-sentation. Here researchers struggled with how tolocate themselves i.ll1d their subjects in reflexive ttxts. A kind of methodologicJI diaspora rook place, a two-way exodus. Humanists migtated to the social scienc~s, searching for new social theory, new ways ro study popubr culturea~d.Its local, ethnographic contexts. Social scientists turned to the hUmaI1I~leS, hopingtolearnI1mvtodo complex structural and poststrucrural readlllgs

of social texts. From the humanities, social scientists also learned how to produce textS thar refusedtobe re:ld in simplistic, linear, incontrovertible terms. The line between text and context blurred. In the postmoclern experimental moment rese:u-chcrs continued to move away from foun-dational and quasi~four\(.bti(Jnalcriteria (see in this volume, Smith & Deemer, Chalner 12, and Ricll",lfdson, Chapter 14; and in Volume 1, Gergen & Gergen, Chapter 13). Alternative evaluative criteria wc:e sought, criteria that might prove evocative, moral, critical, ,1l1d rooted In

local understandings.

Any definition of qualitative research must work within this complex histor'ic:II field. Qlfl.dit.tfiue research means different things in each of these moments. Nonetheless, all initial, generic definition Gin be offered: Quali-tative research is a situated activiry th:It locates the observer in the world.

Trconsists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These pracrices transform the world. They turn the v>-'OrId illl'O a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations,

Introduction

photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attemptingto make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them ..1

Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials-case study; personal experience; introspection; life srory; interview; artifacts; cultural texts and productions; observa-tional, historical, interacobserva-tional, and visual texts-that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals' lives. Accordingly, qUJlitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnecred interpretive practices, hoping alwaystoget a better understanding of the subject

mat-ter at hand. It is understood, however, that each practice makes the \vorld visible in a different way. Hence there is frequently a commitment to using more than one interpretive practice in any study.

The Qualitative Researcher as Bricoleur and Quilt Maker

The qUJlitative researcher may rake on multiple and gendered im-ages: scientist, naturalist, field-worker, journalist, social critic, artist, per-former, jazz musician, filmmaker, quilt maker, essayist. The many meth-odological pracrices of qualirativc rescarch may be viewed as 50ft science journalism, ethnography, bricoJage, quilt

mal~ing,

or montage. The

re~

searcher, in tllrn, may be seen as a brico/c1tI; as a maker of quilts, or, as in fjJmmaking, a person who assembles images into montages. (On montage, see the discussion below as well as Cook, 1981, pp. 171-177; lVlonaco, 1981, pp. 312-328. On quilting, see hooks, 1990, pp. 115-122; \Vo1cott,

[995, pp. 31-33.)

Nelson, Treichler, and Grossberg (1992), Levi-Strauss (1966), and Weins rein and \'7einstein (1991) clarify the meanings of brieo/age and

bri-colelfl:(, A brieo/ellT is a "]ack of all trades or a kind of professional

do-it-yourself person" (Levi-Strauss, 1966, p. 17). There are many kinds of

brieolems-interpretive, narrative, theoretical, political (see below). The

interpretive bricoleur produces a brieo/age-thar is, a pieced-together set of representations thar Mefitted to the specifics of a complex situation. "The solution [bricolageJ which is the resultoftho::brico/cur'smcr110d is:m

[emergent]

construction" (\X1einstein & Weinstein, 1991, p. 161) that changes and takes new forms as different tools, methods, and techniques

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COllECT!I'lG AHD !I'ITERPRETIHG QUALITATIVE MATERIALS

of representation and interpretation are addedtothe puzzle. Nelson et a1. (1992)describe the methodology of cultural studies "as a bricolage. Its choice of practice, thar is, is pragmatic, strategic and self-reflexive"(p.2). This understanding em be applied, with qualifications, to qualitative research,

The qualitative researcher asbricolellrormaker of quilts uses the aes-thetic and material rools of his or her craft, deploying whatever strategies, methods,orempirical materials are at hand (Becker, 1998, p. 1).Ifnew tools or techniques have to be invented, or pieced together, then the

re-searcher will do this. The choices as to which interpretive practices to employ are not necessarily set in advance. The "choice of research prac-tices depends upon the questions that are asked, and the questions depend on their context" (Nelson et ai.,1991, p.1),what is available in the con-tCXI, and what the researcher can do in that setting.

These interpretive practices involve aesthetic issues, an aesthetics of representation that goes beyond the pragmatic, or the practical. Here the concept ofmOl/lage is useful (see Cook,1981,p.313;1'v10naco,1981, pp.171-172).rVIontage isa method of editing cinematic images. In the his-tory of cinematography, montage is associated \vith the work of Sergei Eisenstein, especially his film The Battleship PotemhiTl (1925). In mon-tage, sever;]l different in13ges are superimposed onto one anothertocreate a picture. In a sense, mont;:1ge is like pemimento, in which something that has been paimed out ofa picturc (an image the paimer "repented," or denied) becomes visible again, creating something new. \Vhat is new is what had been obscured by a previous image.

lvionrage and pentimetlto, like jazz, which is improvisation, create the sense thar images, sounds, and understandings 3re blending together, overlapping, forming a composite, a new creation. The images seem to

shape and define one ;mother, and an emotional, gestalt effect is pro~

duced. Often these images are combined in a swiftly run filmic sequence that produces a dizzily revolving collection of several images arounda cen-tral or focused pictureorsequence; such effects arc often Llsedtosignify the passage of time.

Perhaps thc most famous instance of montage is the Odessa Steps sequcnce inThe Battleship Potemhll. In the climax of the film, the

citi-zens of Odessa arc being massacred by czarist troops on the stone steps leading down ro the harbor. Eisenstein cuts to a young mother as she pushes her baby in a carriage across the landing in front of the firing troops. Citizens rush P;1st her, jolting the c.arriage, which she is ;:1fraid to

Introduction

push dO\vn tothe next flight of stairs. The troops are above her firing at

tbe citizens. She is trapped berween the troops and the steps. She screams.

Aline of rifles pointing to the sky erupt in smoke. The mother's hcad sways back. The wheels of the carriage teeter on the edge of the steps. The mother's hand clutches the silver buckle of her belt. Below her people are being beaten by soldiers. Blood drips over tbe mother's white gloves. The baby's hand reaches our of the carriage. The mother sways back and forth. The troops advance. The mother falls back against the carriage.Awoman watches in borror as the rear \vheels of tbe carriage roll off the edge of the landing. With accelerating speed the carriage bounces down the steps, past the de'ld citizens. The baby is jostled [rom sidetoside inside the carriage. The soldiers fire their rifles into a group of wounded cirizens.Astudent scrC;lnlS as the carriage leaps across the steps, till'S, and overmrns (Cook,

1981,p. 167)."

IVlonrage uses brief images to create a clearly defined sense of urgency and complexity.1vlonrage invites viewers1Oconstruct interpretations that

build on one anodler as the scene unfolds. These interpretations are built on :lssociations based on the contr;1sting images that blend into one another. The underlying assumption of montage is that viewers perceive and interpret the shots in a "montage sequence notsequentially, or one ata time,bur rarhersimultaneollsly" (Cook, 1981, p. 171).The viewer puts dIe sequences together imo a meaningful emotional INhale, as if in a glance, all at once.

The qualirmive researcher who uses montage is like;-1 quilt maker or a

jazz improviser. The quilter stitches, edits, and puts slices of reality

to-gether. This process creatcs and brings psychological and emotional~li1ity to an interpretive experience. There are many'--'examples of montage

i;l

current qualitative research (see Diversi, 1998;Jones, 1999; Lather & Smithies,1997;Ronai,1998).Using multiple voices, different textual for-mats, and various typefaces, Lather and Smithies(1997)weave a complex text abolit women who arc HIV positive and \vomen with AIDS. Jones (1999)creates a performance text using lyrics from the blues songs sung by

Billie Holiday.

In texts based on the metaphors of montage, quilt making, and jazz improvisation, many different rhings are going on at the same time-different voices, time-different perspectives, points of views, angles of vision.

Like performance texts, works th,u usc 1lI0J1hlS'>: tiimulrul1coU::ily [rC/irc

and enact moral meaning. They move from the personal to the political, the localtothe historic}l and the cultural. These are dialogical texts. They

(15)

LULLt:L I!I'll:JAI'IU II'll CKt"'I,C! II'j\;J ,,<UM\-! 1M!' V,-'V'r\' '-"'r\'---'

presume an active audience. They create spacesforgive-and-rake between reader and writer. They do more than rurn the other into the object of the social science gaze (see IVlcCall, Chapter4, Volume2).

QU~llitativeresearch is inherenrly multimethod in focus (Flick,1998, p.119). However, the use of multiple methods, or triangulation, reflects an attemprto secure an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon in question. Objective reality can never be caprured.\\Te can know a thing only through its represenrations. Triangulation is not a tool or a strmegy of validation, but an alternative to validmion (Flick,1998, p. 230). The com-bination of multiple mcrhodological practices, empirical materials, per-spectives, and observers in a single study is best understood, then, as a

s~rategy

that adds rigor, breadth, complexity, richness, and depth to any inquiry (see Flick, 1998, p. 231).

In Chapter 14 of this volume, Richardson disputes 1I,e concept of

tri-;:lllgulatio~,

asserting that the central image for qualitative inquiry is tbe cr);s[;1l, nor the trianglc. Mixed-gcnre texts in the posrexperi111cntal mo-mcnt have more than three sides. Like crystals, Eisenstein's montage, the jazz solo, or the pieces that make up a quilt, the mixed-genre tcxt, as Richardson notes, "combines symmetry and substance with ~111 infinite v3riety of shapes, substances, transmutations.... Crystals grmv, change, alter. ... Crystals are prisms thar reflect externalitiesand refract within

themselves, crearing different colors, patterns, and arrays, c3sring off in different directions."

Inthe crystallization process, the writer tells the same tale from differ-ent points of view. For example, inIiThrice-Told ~D11e (J991), I'I/largery \X1olf uses fiction, field notes, and a scientific articletogive an accounting of the same set of experiences in a native village. Similarly, in her playFires

illthe Mirror(1993), Anna Deavere Smith presents a series of performance nieces based on interviews with people involved in a racial conflict in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on August,19, 1991 (sec Denzin, Chapter 13, this volume). The play has multiple speaking parts, including conversa-tions \vith gang members, police officers, and anonymous young girls and boys. There is no "correct" telling of this event. Each telling, like light hit-tinga crystal, reflects a differenrperspective on this incident.

Viewedas acrystalline form,3$amontage, or as a creative performance around a central theme) triangulation as;] form of) or a.lternmiveto,valid· ity thus can be extended. Tria.ngulation is the display of multiple, refracted realities simu Itaneously_ Each of the metaphors "vmrks"tocreate simulta-neity rather than the sequential or linear. Readers and audiences are then

8

"'t)UUULLlUI'

invited ro explore cornpeting visions of the context,tobecome immersed in and merge with new realitiestocomprehend.

The methodologicalbricole1/ris adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks, ranging from intervie\ving to intensive self-reflection and introspection. The theoreticalbricoleurreads widely and is knowledge-able about the many interpretive paradigms (feminism, ivlarxism, cultural srudies, constructivism, queer theory) thatGillbe brought to any

particu-lar problem. He or she may not, however, feel that paradigms can be min-gled or synrhesized. That is, one cannot easily move between paradigms 3S overarching philosophical systems denoting particular ontologies, episte-mologies, and methodologies. They represent belief systems that attach users to particular worldviews. Perspectives, in contrast, are less well developed systems, and one can more easily move between them. The researcher-as-bricoleltr-theorist works between and within competing ;md overlapping perspectives and paradigms.

The interpretivebl'icoleltrunderstands that research is an interactive process shaped by his or her personal history, biography, gender, social class, race, and ethnicity, and by those of the people in the setting. The political bricoleur knows that science is power, for all research find-ings have political implications. There is no value-free science. Acivic social science based on a politics of hope is sought (Lincoln, 1999). The gendered, narrativebricolellr also knows that researchersall teB Stories about the worlds they have studied. Thus the narratives, or stories, scien-tists tell arc aCcounts couched and framed within specific storytelling traditions, often defined as paradigms (e.g., positivism, postpositivism, constructivism).

The produc[ of the interpretivebricolellr'slabor is a complex, quiltlike

~)ricolage,

areflexive collage or montage-a set of fluid, interconnected Images and representations. This interpretive structure is like a quilr, a performance text,asequence of representations connecting the parts to the whole.

Qualitative Research as a

Site ofMultiple Interpretive Practices

. Qualitative research) as a set of interpretive acrivities, privileges no Single methodological practice over another. As a site of discussion or discourse, qualitative research is difficult ro define dearly.Ithas no the'ory

(16)

Volume 'I reveal, multiple theoretical paradigms claim use of qualitative

rese~lfcbmethods and strategies, from constructivist to cultural studies, feminism, lVbrxism, and cdmic models of study. Qualitative research is used in many separate disciplines, as we will discuss below. It does not belongto a single discipline.

Nor docs qualitative research have;] distiner set of methods or pfilCtices that 3fe entirely its o\""n. Qualitative rescarchers use semiotics, narrative, content, discourse, Jrchival and phonemic analysis, even statistics, tables, graphs, and numbers. They also draw upon and utilize the approachcs, methods, and techniques of cthnomethodology, phenomenology, herrne-neutics, feminism, rhizomatics, deconstrucrionism, ethnography, inter-vic\vs, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, survcy research, and participant observation, among others.9All of these research practices "call provide

important insights and knowledge" (Nelson etal., ]992,p.2).No specific method or practice can be privileged over any other.

IvLlllY of these methods, or research pr'1etices, are used in other con-texts in the human disciplines. Each bears the traces of its own disciplinary history. Thus there is an extensive history of the uses and meanings ofeth~

nography and ethnology in education (see Fine, \Xleis, \X1eseen,& \X1ong, Volume 1, Chapter 4); of participant observation and ethnography in 'H1thropology (see Tedlock, Volume 2, Clupter 6; Ryan & Bernard, this volume, Chapter 7; Brady, this volume, Chapter 15), sociology (sec Gubrium& Holstein, Volume2, Chapter 7; and in this volumc, Harper, Chapter5; Fontana& Frey, Chapter1; Silverman, Cbapter 9), communi-cation (see Ellis& Bochner, this volume, Chapter6),and cultural studies (see Frow & Ivlorris, Volume 1, Chapter 11); of textual, hermeneutic, feminist, psychoanalytic, semiotic, and narrative analysis in cinema and literary studies (see Olesen, Volume 1,Chapter 8; BrJdy, this volume, Chapter15); of archival, material culture, historical, and document analy-sis in history, biography, and archacology (see Hodder, this volume, Chap-ter4;Tierney, Volume2,Chapter9);and of discourse and conversational analysis in mcdicine, communications, and education (scc Ivliller& Crab-tree, Volume 2, Chapter12;Silverman, this volume, Chapter9).

The many histories that surround each method or rese:lrch strategy reveal how multiple uscs and meanings are broughtroeach practice. Tex-tual .lllalyses in lirerary swdies, for example, oftcn treat tCXtS as self-containedsystem~,On rhe other hand, a researcher raking:] culrural stud-ies or feminist perspective will read a text in terms of its loc:ltion within a

10

hiswriol moment markedbya particular gender, race, orclass ideology.A

cultural studies use of ethnography would bring a set of understandings from feminism, postmodernism, and poststrueturalisrn to the project. These understandings wouldnotbe shared by mainstream postpositivist sociologists. Similarly, postpositi\'ist and poststrucrur<1list historians bring different understandings and uses to the methods and findings of his-torical research (see Tierney, Volumc2, Chapter9). These tensions ;1lld contradictions 3re all evident in the chapters in this volume.

These separate anclmultipJc uses and meanings of the merhods of quali-tative research make it difficult for researchersto agree on ilny essential definition of the field, for it is never just: one thing.loStill, \ve must estab-lish a definition for our purposcs here. \X7e borrow from, ;ll1d paraphrase, Nelson et al.'s(1992, p. 4)attempttodefine cultUf:.l! studies:

Qualitative research is an interdisciplinary, transdisciplillary, and some-times counrerdisciplinary field. Itcrosscuts the hum:mitics and rhe social and physical sciences. Qualirative research is mall)' things at the S:l[lle time. itis multi paradigmatic in focus. Its praetirioncrs are sensitivetothe v;l!lIe of the Olulrimerhod 'lppro:lCh. They 3re commitredrothe naturalisric perspec-rive and to the interpretive understanding of human experience. Ar the same time, the field is inherently polirical and shaped by multiple ethical dnd political positions.

Qualitarivc research embraces two rensions at rhe same time. On the one hand, it is drawntoa broad, inrerpretive, postexperirnenwl, P05tl1lOdcrn, feminist, ::md crirical sensibility. On the other h;l\1d, ir is drawn to more nar-rowly defined positivist, posrpositivisr, humanisric, and naturalisric

COll-ceptions of human experience ;l11d irs ::l11alysis. Further, these tensions can be combined in the same project, bringing both posunodcrn and n:Hur;!lisric or borh critical and humanistic perspecrivestobear.

This rather complex statement means that qualitative research, as a set

ofpractices, embraces within its own multiple disciplinary histories con-stant tensions and contradictions over the project itself, including irs

methods and tile forms Its. ,.ilnmgs anc Interpretatlons take. TI1CI . . , f·reld

~pra\~'ls bet\veen and croSSCutS all of the human di,;ciplines, even

indud-J~.sl In.some cases, the physical seiene-eo;. Its prClct;tioncr5 Llrc v;.triv\l:;ly

I.:ommmed to modern, postmodern, and postexperirnental sensibilities and theapI'( .oac les to SOCla rcseare 1 t 1.l[ t lese senstbdltles Imply.I . . . I I I I . ... .

(17)

... V L L L ' - ' \l>'Ur'I'-'l.-' "" '-,,, ,,,.. ,,, ..."<:'-" ,_." •

Volume I reveal, multiple theoretical paradigms claim lise of qualitative

research methods<ind strategies, from constructivist to cultural studies, feminism, IVlarxisl1l, and ethnic models of study. Qualitative research is used in many separate disciplines, as we "vill discuss below. It does not belong to a single discipline.

Nor docs qualitative research have a distinct set of methods or practices that are emirelv its own. Qualitative researchers use semiotics, narrative, content, discOl;rse, archival and phonemic analysis, even statistics, tables, graphs, and numbers. They also draw upon anclurilize the approaches, methods, and techniques of ethnomethodology, phenomenology, herme-neutics, feminism, rhizomatics, deconstrucrionism, ethnography, inter-views, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, survey research, and participant observation, among others. ')All of these research practices "can provide important insights and knowledge" (Nelson et aI.,1992, p.l). No specific method or practice can be privileged over any other.

Ivlanv of these rnethods, Or research practices, are used in other con-texts in

~he

human disciplines. E::lch bears the tr::lces of its own disciplinary history. Thus there is an extensive history of the uses and meanings of eth-nography and ethnology in education (sec Fine, \X!eis, \X/cscen, & \Vong, Volume 1, Chapter 4); of participant observation and ethnography in anthropology (see Tedlock, Volume2, Chapter 6; Ry,1I1 & Bernard, this volume, Chapter 7; Brady, this volume, Chapter 15), sociology (sce Gubrium& Holstein, Volume2, Chapter 7; and in this volume, Harper, Chapter5; Fontana& Frey, Chapter2; Silverman, Chapter 9), communi-cation (see Ellis& Bochner, this volume, Chapter 6), and cultural studies (see Frow & I\iforris, Volume I, Chapter 11); of textual, hermeneutic, feminist, psychoanalytic, semiotic, and narrative analysis in cinema and literary studies (see Olesen, Volume 1, Chapter 8; Brady, this volume, Chapter 15); of archival, material culture, historical, and document analy-sis in history, biography, and archaeology (see Hodder, this volume, Chap-ter4;Tierney, Volume 2, Chapter9);and of discourse and conversational analysis in medicine, communications, and education (see Miller& Crab-tree, Volume2, Chapter 12; Silverman, this volume, Chapter 9).

The Illany histories that surround each method or research strategy reveal how multiple uses and meanings are brought to each practice. Tex-tual analyses in literary studies, for example, often treM texts :1S self-contained systems_ On the other hand, a researcher taking a cultural stud-ies or feminist perspective "vill read a tcxt in terms of its location "vi thin a

10

historical moment marked by a particular gender, race, or class ideology. A culrural studies use of cthnography would bring a set of understandings from feminism, postlllodernism, and poststrucruralisl1l to the project. These undersrandings \\'oulcl not be sharcd by mainsrream postpositivist sociologists. Silllilarly, postposirivist and poststrueturalist historians bring differenr understandings and uses to the methods and findings of his-torical research (see Tierney, Volume2, Chaprer 9). These tensions and conrradictions are al1 evident in the chapters in this volume.

These scparate and multiple uses and meanings of rhe methods of quali-tative research make it difficult for researchers to 3gree011 all\!essential

definition of thefield, for it is never just one thing.If!Srill, we n~ltlSt estab-lish a dcfinition for our purposes herc.\'Xleborrmv[rom, and parapbr3se, Nelson et

0.1.

's (1992, p.4) 3trernpttodefine cultural studies:

Qualitative research is an interdisciplinary, tr:J.nsdisciplillary. ~llld some-times counterdisciplin;:Hy field. ItcrOSSCuts the humanities and the soci;ll ;lnd physical sciences. Quallt,Hive research is many things,Hthe S;l1ne time. It is multi p,u;ldigmatic in focus. Its practitioners arc sensitive to the value of rhe l11ultimcthod approach. They are committed to the naturalistic perspec-tive and to the imcrprerive understanding of human experience. At the same time, rhe field is inherently political and shapedby llluiriplc ethical and political positions.

Qualitative research embraces two tensions at the same time. On the one hand, it is drawn to abroad, irnerprerive, postexpcrimental, postmodern, feminist, and critical sensibility. On the other hand, it is drawntomore nar-rowly defined positivist, postpositivist, humanistic, and naturalistic con-ceptions of hunufl experience and irs analysis. Funher. these tensions can be combined in the same project, bringing both poslmodern and naturalistic or both critical and humanistic perspectives(0bear.

. This rather complex statement means that qualitative research, as a set ot practices, embraces within its own multiple disciplinary histOries con-Stant tensions and cOntradicrions over the project itself, including its

methods and tIl f ' ' , f' d' d ' ' I '

<J corms ItS .m-mgs an rntctpreutlons fa (e. The field

sprawls between andCl·· , - II t' 1 I I" I' , I I - . - - .osscuts a 0 [le lUman (rSCIp Incs, even

l11CU(-l!lg In Some (;1 h i ' [ . . . "

) <Sf'S:. t e ply,;tC'l SCIenCeS. Its praCl.l"'OJ1~or'j"c'", ... an<.,,_,,>!y

Committed d. " " " " , '

. . to rno ern, postmodern, and postcxpenmemal sensrbrlltles

dndtheal,proa-I_' _"I . . . . .

(18)

l..ULLCl..l Il'l\.;l 1-\1'1\..111~I.Lr\r l\'LI ""\,;)",:,v,..,,_, ,,..., 'Y L ""-,, ....,",-,~..,

Resistances to Qualitative Studies

'The academic Jnd disciplinary resistances to qualitative research illus-trate the politics embedded in this field of discourse, The challenges to

qualitative research are many. Qualitative researchers are called journal-ists, or soft scientists. Their \vode is termed unscientific, or only explor-atory, or subjective. It is called criticism and nor theory, or it is inrerpreted politically, as ;] disguised version of IVIarxism or secular humanism (see Huber, 1995; see also Denzin, 1997, pp. 258-261).

These resistances reflect an uneasy awareness that the traditions of qualitative research commit the researcher to a critique of the positivist or posrpositivist project. Bur the positivist resistance toqualitative research goes beyond the "ever-present desire to maintain a distinction between hard science and soft scholarship" (Carey, 1989, p. 99; see also in Volume 1, Schwandt, Chapter 7; in this volume, Smith & Deemer, Chapter 12). The experimental (positivist) sciences (physics, chemistry, economics, and psychology, for example) are often seen as the crovvning achievements of \Xlesrern civilization, and in their practices it is assumed that "truth" can transcend opinion and personal bias (Carey, 1989, p. 99; Schwandt, 1997b, p. 309). Qualitative research is seen as an assault on this tradition, whose adherents often retreat into a "value-free objectivist science" (Carey, 1989, p. 104) model to defend their position. They seldom attempt to make explicit, orto critique, the "moral and political com-mitments in their own contingent work" (Carey, 1989, p. 104; sec also Lincoln & Guba, Chapter 6, Volume 1).

Positivists further allege that the so-called new experimental qualitative researchers write fiction, not science, and that these researchers have no \vay of verifying their truth statements. Ethnographic poetry and fiction signal the cleath of empirical science, and there is little to be gained by attempting to engage in moral criticism. These critics presume a stable, unch:mging reality that can be studied using the empirical methods of objective social science (see Huber, 1995). The province of qualitative re-search, accordingly, is the vi,iQrld of lived experience, for this is where indi-viclual belief and action intersect with culture. Under this model there is no preoccupation with discourse and method as material interpretive prac-tices tbat constitute representation and description. Thus is the texrual, narrative turn rejectedbythe positivists_

J,/tlUUUl..UUfl

The opposition to positive science by the postposil'ivlsts (see below) and the poststructur8lists is seen, then, as an arrack on reason and trmh. At the same time, the positivist science attack on qualitative research is regarded as an attempt to legislate one version of truth over another.

This complex political terrain defines the many traditions and strands of qualitative research: the British tradition and its presence in other national contexts; the American pragmatic, naturalistic, and interpretive traditions in sociology, anthropology, communication, and education; the German and French phenomenological, hennencutic, semiotic, L\/larxist, structural, and poststrucrural perspectives; feminist studies, African American stlldies, Latino studies, queer studies, studies of indigenous and aboriginal cultures. The politics of qualitative research create a tension thar informs each of the above traditions. This tension itself is constantly being reexamined and interrogated, as qualitative research confronrs

~

changing historical world, Ilew intellectual positions, and its o\\'n

institu-tional and academic conditions.

TosU~ll11arize: Qualitative research is many things ro many people. Its

essence IS twofold: a commirlTIent to some version of the nawralistic,

int~r?retive

approach toits subject matter and an ongoing critique of the pohncs and methods of postposjtivism. \X!e turn nowtoa brief discussion of the major differences between qualitative and quantitative approaches

~oresearch. \'(/c then discuss ongoing differences and tensions within qual-Itative inquiry.

Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research

The word qualitativeimplies an emphasis on the qU<llitics of {'-and on processes {'-and meanings that are not experimentally" measured (ifmeasured 3t all) in terms of quantity, arr frequency. Qualitative researchers stress the soeir ,-reality, the intimate relationship between ..' ied, and the situational

constr~inr"

emphasize the value-laden nature G lions that Stresshow social expcrien Contrast, quantitative studies emphasi'i. causal relationships benvcen variables, l.

(19)

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Resistances to Qualitative Studies

The academic and disciplinary resistances toqualitative research illus-trate the politics embedded in this field of discourse. The challenges to qualitative research are many. Qualitative researchers are called journal-ists, or soft scientists. Their work is termed unscientific, or only explor-atory, or subjective. It is called criticism and not theory, or it is interpreted politically, as a disguised version of tvlarxism or secular humanism (see I-luber,1995; see also Denzin, 1997, pp. 25S-261).

These resistances reflee[ an uneasy awareness that the traditions of qualitative research commit the researchertoa critiqtle of the positivist or postpositivist project. Burthe positivist resistanceto qualitative research goes beyond the "ever-present desire to maintain a distinction between hard science and solt scholarship" (Carey, 1989, p. 99; see also in Volume

1,Schwandt, Chapter7; in this volume, Smith& Deemer, Chapter 12).

The experimental (positivist) sciences (physics, chemistry, economics, and psychology, for example) are often seen as the crowning achievements of \Vestern civilization, and in their practices it is assumed that "truth" can transcend opinion and personal bias (Carey, 1989, p. 99; Schwandt, 1997b,p. 309). Qualitative research is seen as an assault on this tradition, v,Ihose adherents often retreat into a "value-free objectivist science" (Carey, 1989, p. 104) model to defend their position. They seldom attempt to make explicit, or to critique, the "moral and political com-mitments in their own contingent work" (Carey, 1989, p. 104; see also Lincoln& Guba, Chapter6, Voilime 1).

Positivists further allege that the so-called new experimental qualitative researchers write fiction, not science, and that these researchers have no \vay of verifying their truth statements. Ethnographic poetry and fiction signal the death of empirical science, and there is little to be gained by attempting to engage in moral criticism. These critics presume a stable, unchanging reality that can be studied llsing the empirical methods of objective social science (see Huber, 1995). The province of qualitativere~

search, accordingly, is the \vorld of lived experience, for this is where indi-vidual belief and action intersect with culture. Under this model there is no preoccupation withdiscol1r~eand method as m:1terial interpretive prac-tices that constitute reprcsentation and description. Thus is the textual, narrative tllrn rejected by the positivists.

12

" " ' UUULlIUI,

---~-~..~-._-~

The opposition to positive science by the postpositivists (sec belm\') and the POststflleturalists is seen, then, as an arrack on reason ;:md truth. Ar rhe same time, the positivist science arrack on qualitative research is regarded as an attemptro legislate one versionoftruth Over another.

This complex political terrain defines the many traditions and strands of qualitative research: the British tradition and its presence in other national contexts; the American pragmatic, naturalistic, and interpretive traditions in sociology, anthropology, communication, and education' the German and French phenomenological, hermeneutic, semiotic,

I\Ilar~ist,

structural, and POStstrucrural perspectives; feminist studies, African American studies, Latino studies, ClLleer studies, swdies of indigenolls and aboriginal cultures. The politics of qualitative research create a tension

dl;:~tinforms c,ach of the, above traditions. This tension itself is constantly bemg reexammed and Interrogared, as qualitative research confronts a changing historical world, new imellecnwl positions, and irs own institu-tional and academic conditions.

To sUI,llmarize: Qualitative research is mallY thingstomany people. Its essence IS twofold: a coml11irment to SOl11e version of the naturalistic

int~r~retive

approachtoits subject matter and an ongoing critique of

th~

polmc5 and methodsofpostpositivism.\\1e rurnno\\'toJ brief discLission

of the major differences between qualitative and quantitative approaches

~'o r~se~rch',Wethen discuss ongoing differencesandtensions within

qual-Itative mqll1ry.

Qualitative Versus Quantitative Research

The word qualitativeimplies an emphasis on the qualities of entities and on processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured (if measured atall) in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or [req.uency. Qualitative researchers stress the socially constructednatureof

realIty theint· t· I··· '1· b I

, .' Ima ere aLluns 11p etween t1Cresearcher and v·,1hat is

stud-!Cd and tlI·· . I .

. '. ' eSttuatlOna COl1Strall1ts that shape inquiry. Such researchers emphaSize the~' v"'IL]e-l~deJ'" d.1 n,~··tlIfe () tnqUlry.

f ' · ·

-flley see ( answersI to

qucs-~lon5that stre I ' I . .

' _ ,S5 JOWSOCIa experIence1$created and given meaning. In

Contrast, QU:10tit;1!:ivc stlld;esc,npb,,-s;LCtbcITl",aSUrClllcnl"nd ..n ..l(::;~s of

causal reiation·l·_ ' ,. SlipS JC[Ween vana es, not processes. Proponents of suchI· . . bl

Studlesclalmtb'Hth--'·, 1··"1 f ·1·

(20)

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Research Styles: Doing the Same ThingsDifferently~

Of course, both qualitative and quantitative researchers "think they kno\v something about society worth tellingtoothers, and they use a vari-ety of forms, medi::t and meanstocommunicate their ideas and findings" (Becker, 1986, p. 122). Qualitative research differs from quantitative re-search in five significant ways (Becker, 1996). These points of difference

turnon different ways of addressing the samc set of issues. They return aiwaysto the

politic~

of research, and to who has the power tolegislate correct solutions to these problems.

Uses of positivism alld postpositivisJII. First, both perspectives are shaped

by the positivist and postpositivist traditions in the physical and social sci-ences (see the discussion below). These two positivist science traditions hold to na'ive and critical realist positions concerning reality and its per-ception. In the positivist version it is contended that there is a reality out there to be studied, captured, and understood, whereas the postpositivists argue that reality can never be fully apprehended, only approximated (Guba,1990, p. 22). Postpositivisll1 relies on multiple methods as a way of capturing as much of reality as possible. At the same time, emphasis is placed on the discovery and verification of theories. Traditional evalua-tion criteria, such as internal and external validity, are stressed, as is the use of qualitative procedures that lend themselves to structured (sometimes statistical) analysis. Computer~assistedmethods of analysis that permit frequency counts, tabulations, and low-level statistical analyses may also be employed.

The positivist and postpositivist traditions linger like long shadows over the qualitative research project. Historically, qualitative research was defined within the positivist paradigm, where qualitative researchers attemptedtodo good positivist research with less rigorous methods and procedures. Some mid-20th-century qualitative researchers (e.g., Becker, Geer, Hughes,& Strauss, 1961) reported participanrobservation findings in terms of quasi-statistics. As recemly as 1998, Strauss and Corbin, tWO leaders of the grounded theory approach to qualitative research, at-temptedtomodify the usual canons of good (positivist) science to fit their o\,.;n postpositivist conception of rigorous resc:1fch (but see CI13rrnaz, Chapter 8, Volume 2; see also Glaser, 1992). Some applied rese3rchers, \vhile claimingtobe atheoretical, often fit within the positivist or postpOS-itivist framework by default.

14

"·"uu ... '-'u,,

Flick(1998,pp.2-3)llsefully sllmmarizes the differences between these t\\lO approaches to inquiry. He observes that the quantitative approach has been used for purposes of isolating "causes and dfects ... opcrational-izing theoretical relations ... [and] measuring and ... quantifying phe-nomena ... allowing the generalization of findings" (p. 3). Bur today doubt is cast on such projects, because "Rapid social change and the re-sulting diversification of life worlds arc increasingly confronting social researchers \..\Iith new social COntexts and perspectives.... traditional de-ductive methodologies ... are failing.... thus research is increasingly forccdtomake use of inductive strategies instead of starring from theories and testing them.... knmvledge and practice 3re studied as local knowl-edge and practice" (p. 2).

Spindler and Spindler (1992) summarize their qualitative approach to quantitative materials: "Instrumentation and quanrification are simply procedures employedtoextcnd and reinforce certain kinds of data, inter-pretations and test hypotheses aCross samples. Both must be kept in their place. One must avoid thei r premature or over!Vextensive use as a securitv

mechanism"(p. 69). . .

Although many qualitative researchers in the postpositivist tradition will use statistical measures, methods, and documems as a way of locating groups of subjects within larger populations, they will seldom report their findings in terms of the kinds of complex statistical measures or methods

towhich quantitative researchers arc drawn (i.e., path, regression, orlog~

linear analyses).

'-Acceptance of postmodem sensibilities. The use of quantitative, positivist

me.thods and assumptions has been rejected by a nC\\I generation of quali-tatIve researchers who are attached to poststructural and/or postmodern sensibilities (see below; see also in Volume1, Vidich& Lyman, Chapter2;

and.i~ ~his

volume, Richardson, Chapter14). These researchers argue that

POSItiVISt methods are but one way of telling stories about society or the social world. These methods may be no better or110worse than any other

methods; they JUSt tell differenr kinds of stories.

This toleram view is not shared by everyone (ITuber, 1995). Nlany members of- t le Cfmca t leory, constructIvIst, poststrucrural, and post-I ' - .. -j I ..

modern schools, o r longf I ht reject.- POsltlVl~t::in.-' . d postpOSltlVlst cntena. .. "

When evalu' ·1 o ' I I ' "

. anng tklf 0\'1'11\\lor (. T ley see these CrIterIa as Irrelevantto

rhelr worl" and - . I I ' j " . .

. _. I. COntenc t lat sue1ctlrena reproduce onlv a certam lond of

SCience a . - -I . _ __ _ . . . .

Figure

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References

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