Conference Agenda

RN20_04: Drawing (New) Boundaries In Qualitative Research Methodologies
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Paul Atkinson, Cardiff university
Location: UP.3.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Indigenous methods (IM): Qualitative research as “boundaring”?

Anne Ryen

University of Agder, Norway

Indigenous researchers claim a need for their own methods different from methods used by their colonisers. Indigenous methods (IM) are communicated as indigenous peoples` tools to seek social justice after centuries at the margin. Indigenous research is part of the strategic decision to centre-stage indigeneity and to talk with one voice by downplaying regional, historical and political variations. The contemporary preference for storytelling as the dominant way of representing experience, facilitates IM as a tool by, for and with indigenous peoples inspired by early feminism to accentuate the indigenous insiders` collective story. Methodologically, criticism ranges from indigenous methods as nothing but variations of existing methods to all methods as indigenous.

I explore into the political and emotional of IM by their romantic call for the authentic - in times of populism, and claim IM holds a problematic status between methods and politics.

The Practice, Strategies and Boundaries of method making in qualitative social science Research: A Meta Analysis of Discourse production in English- and German-speaking journals since 1995 to 2018

Falk Eckert1, Laura Behrmann2

1Universität Hamburg, Germany; 2Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, Hannover

As well as cultural diversity across and beyond European boundaries is researched and discussed it is to ask how qualitative research as discursive practice is presented in social science journals and how this is bound to different research cultures.

Scientific writing is a materialized discursive practice and part of a discourse-formation which (re)produces procedures as well as quality criteria of qualitative research. This paper focuses on the practices of presentation of qualitative inquiry in social science journals as social scientific practices.

We propose that the production of discourses justifying qualitative social science research is a scientific practice as such distinct independent from doing research itself. In a meta-analysis of articles in highly ranked sociological journals from 1995 to 2018 we compare the discursive practices and strategies of presenting qualitative inquiries published in journals printed in English or German. How do researchers present their selection of studied object, research design, and their applied methods? How are techniques and procedures presented, reflected, and justified in the written publication?

Our comparison reveals specific commonalities and differences between the English- and German-speaking communities regarding the representation of qualitative research and the sociological production of knowledge: Statements and arguments in the articles offer insights into the stabilization and justification of qualitative inquiry of research practices.

Beyond The Human: Pros And Cons Of "Post-Qualitative" Methodology

Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann

University of Kassel, Germany

Materialisms and posthuman concepts have given rise to what has been termed “post-qualitative” thinking in qualitative methodology. Broadly, new materialism can be understood as critique of the predominance of human mind in western culture. One common feature of materialisms consists in the rejection of taken-for-granted ontological assumptions. In this line of reasoning, entities such as, for example, “subject” and “object” are not conceived anymore as prior to the relations in which they arise (see, e.g., Kissmann & van Loon 2019). In this paper, I will ask what it means for the collection and analysis of qualitative data if subject and object are engendered in the process of investigation. One might opt for “mess” in social science research such as John Law (2004) in order to resist the pitfall of Cartesian and Kantian divide of matter and human experience. As a consequence, human and nonhuman are equated from a methodologically point of view. Or one might take up a stance on materialities such as, for example, Karen Barad (2007) and perceive the investigating human subject entirely as effect of an apparatus. Here, the distinction of human and nonhuman as prior to the process of investigation is negated. Finally, I will show how empirical inquiry is currently conducted in the post-anthropocentric.

Barad, Karen (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Kissmann, Ulrike Tikvah & van Loon, Joost (ed.) (2019). Discussing New Materialism: Methodological Implications for the Study of Materialities. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Law, John (2004). After Method. Mess in Social Science Research. London, New York: Routledge.

Reconfiguring Realities: Addressing Boundaries through New Materialist Analysis

Cornelia Schadler

University of Vienna, Austria

A recent nexus of theories subsumed under the notion of new materialisms is increasingly recognized within sociology. Theories, such as the agential realism of Karen Barad (2003, 2007), the posthumanism of Donna Haraway (1992, 2008) or the Deleuzian materialism of Rosi Braidotti (2002, 2006) claim to rewrite definitions of humans, overcome dualisms and representationalism, include material processes into research and redefine the relationship of subject and object in research. Material-discursive boundaries play a major role in this theoretical perspective. Karen Barad theorizes the universe as intra-acting matter. Intra-action then defines boundaries, hence separated entities. These boundaries and entities do not exist by themselves but they are inseparable from other boundaries, because they are part of the general mattering process. Boundaries are specified as fixed and sometimes extremely durable, but as never ahistorical or universal. Consequently many boundaries do not erode or diminish easily but sustain constant redefinition. However, since intra-action is always boundary reconfiguration the extent of the redefinition of boundaries matter.

The process of research is simultaneously defined as a response to and a reconfiguration of existing boundaries. The process ontologies of new materialisms define “research objects” as well as research processes and methods as bounded entities intra-acting and creating research outcomes (which are bounded entities themselves in the form of articles, talks or books) (Schadler, 2017). Research therefore is not just an innocent intra-action but an intervention that reconfigures realities, while the entities researched leave their marks on research. If we take this concept seriously, how should we rethink the reproduction of boundaries in research? The talk shall address this issue and proposed solutions from the perspective of new materialisms.