SAGE Journal Articles

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More on alternative approaches: post-qualitative inquiry

Adams St. Pierre, Elizabeth. ‘Writing Post Qualitative Inquiry.’ Qualitative Inquiry. doi:1077800417734567.

What if your philosophical and theoretical influences clash with the humanist approach that is the norm in qualitative research, including, in part, in this book? What if the rules, processes, tips and reflexes that are put forth by qualitative research, in this book and others, stifle rather than nourish your study? If that is the case, you might be yearning for post qualitative inquiry. In this article, Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre tells the story of her uneasiness when writing a thesis that was influenced by post structuralism and yet, using the ill-fitted tools of ‘human-centric’ qualitative research to do so. This article, and all her other contributions, might help you describe a schism that you experience in your own research. She reminds us that there is no method without theory, that writing is also a method, and that coherence is a key guiding principle in research.

Gerrard, Jessica, Sophie Rudolph, and Arathi Sriprakash. 2017. ‘The Politics of Post-Qualitative Inquiry: History and Power.’ Qualitative Inquiry 23(5): 384–94.

Post qualitative inquiry offers stimulating discussions and pathways but it is not exempt from challenges. In this article, the authors lay out some of the tensions associated with post qualitative inquiry. One is the emphasis on the ‘newness’ that it pre-supposes and that could persuade us that we are making a clear break with the past. This option, which reproduces the progress narrative, is probably difficult to sustain as well as undesirable. Another is the importance of reflecting on the geopolitical context in which post qualitative inquiry emerges. Finally, post qualitative research needs to more fully consider some ethical and political dimensions of the act of research itself. In brief, this article reminds us of the need to reflect on some of the specific shortcomings of post qualitative inquiry and the challenges they present.

More on axiology: politically engaged and indigenous/anti-colonial research

Apoifis, Nicholas. 2017. ‘Fieldwork in a Furnace: Anarchists, Anti-authoritarians and Militant Ethnography.’ Qualitative Research 17(1): 3–19.

Can research be overtly and actively political? Many qualitative researchers, including us, tell you that every study rests on an axiology. It means that every study promotes, consciously or unconsciously a certain worldview. But what about engaged research, research that has concrete transformative objectives? We did not touch on this question much, if at all, in this book. That is one reason this article is worth reading. Nicolas Apoifis introduces us to militant ethnography, a type of ethnography that combines substance and form. Indeed, while studying anti-authoritarian and anarchist groups, militant ethnography borrows the philosophy of these groups to produce knowledge that meets the standards of academia but that can also be useful for the activists at the frontline of the struggle. 

Hart, Michael A., Silvia Straka, and Gladys Rowe. 2017. ‘Working Across Contexts: Practical Considerations of Doing Indigenist/Anti-Colonial Research.’ Qualitative Inquiry 23(5): 332–42.

How does one do indigenist/anti-colonial research? The team of authors, two Indigenous and one settler, share their experiences of doing research on aging Indigenous people. The text discusses the importance for researchers of confronting actual colonial processes, the necessity of commitment to Indigenous values and the centrality of relationships as well as indigenous knowledges. The text also discusses the required commitment to creating positive change for, and as defined by, Indigenous people. Not only does it expose the reader to pertinent content on indigenous/anti-colonial approaches, the article does so using a format that is coherent with the message. Indeed, the text is written as a series of personal and group narratives, in synch with the Indigenous methodology.

More on analysis: what is theory in grounded theory?

Apramian, Tavis, Sayra Cristancho, Chris Watling, and Lorelei Lingard. 2017. ‘(Re)Grounding Grounded Theory: A Close Reading of Theory in Four Schools.’ Qualitative Research 17(4): 359–76. 

Is grounded theory a qualitative approach reserved for those who want to build a new theory? And what counts as ‘theory’? This team of researchers explores the different understandings of theory for four developers of grounded theory: Glaser, Strauss, Charmaz and Clarke. It also shows that those different conceptions of theory translate into different ways of approaching, in this case coding, the empirical material. This article will interest you if you are toying with the idea of using grounded theory for your research. It will reinforce the idea presented in this book that grounded theory is not uniform; that conception of theory and method are inseparable; but also that there is room for adaptation. The explanatory view is but one view of theory. There are others.

More on tools to generate material: conducting digital ethnography, reflecting on interviews and undertaking visual iconography

Barratt, Monica J., and Alexia Maddox. 2016. ‘Active Engagement with Stigmatised Communities Through Digital Ethnography.’ Qualitative Research 16(6): 701–19. 

Are you planning to conduct digital ethnography? If so, Barratt and Maddox will provide you with important guidelines pertaining to ethical, safety and technical issues. In the book, we briefly covered the reality of digital ethnography and referred you to a capsule by Robert Kozinets ( The article by Barratt and Maddox goes into more depth, covering the intricacies of digital ethnography. It should be mentioned that they take us into their experiences of interactive digital ethnography with a criminalized community on the dark web. Interaction, dark web, as well as stigma and criminalized activities add layers of concerns. Even if the digital ethnography you are planning is not as adventurous, the article will alert you to the specificities of the online world and how to cope with its fluidity in the context of research.

Silverman, David. 2017. ‘How Was It For You? The Interview Society and the Irresistible Rise of the (Poorly Analyzed) Interview.’ Qualitative Research 17(2): 144–58. 

Are you thinking about conducting interviews for your project? Why? And, more generally, why are interviews the ‘gold standards’ in qualitative research? What are the assumptions behind interview-produced material? This thought provoking article contends that most often, as qualitative researchers, we rely on partial understandings of the philosophers (e.g. Husserl) and sociologists (e.g. Weber) to justify conducting interviews. Silverman pleads for conceiving of interview-produced material as an accomplishment and an interaction. For him, interviews do not offer a reflection of an inner state of being but consists rather of a performance. The article engages in a dialogue with the ‘conventional’ approaches to interviews. It also rebuts the objections we could have to interviews as performance. Finally, it proposes concrete ways to maximize interview research.

Doerr, Nicole. 2017. ‘How Right-Wing Versus Cosmopolitan Political Actors Mobilize and Translate Images of Immigrants in Transnational Contexts.’ Visual Communication 16(3): 315–36. 

The book is heavily centered on analyzing human interactions, thoughts and behaviours as they are transformed into words. One of the aspects that we leave out in the book is the vast domain of visual communication. How can we also approach images to make sense of social dynamics? In her article, Nicole Doerr explains how she conducts discursive and visual analysis to document the way images translate across different national political contexts. She compares a right-wing and a cosmopolitan campaign in Europe pertaining to immigration and citizenship. The article is interesting because it describes some facets of visual analysis (visual iconography) as well as the way it is articulated with media analysis and interviews on the issues of visual representation. While we recommend it for its methodological interest, it remains first and foremost a rich empirical article on an urgent matter.

More on quality criteria to guide knowledge production

Bochner, Arthur P. 2017. ‘Unfurling Rigor: On Continuity and Change in Qualitative Inquiry.’ Qualitative Inquiry

What is a good research? How do we know that the research paper, the thesis or dissertation we produce is of high quality? Bochner takes us through the transition he experienced in his long academic career and the different relations he weaved with ‘rigor’ in research. He shows the reader that rigorous research has different meanings depending on the epistemological position we take. Adopting a correspondence theory of truth will lead a researcher to evaluate his or her study according to its technical “fit” with reality. However, adopting an interpretative stance will emphasize the importance of ethical and political quality criteria. His plea is about escaping the trap of our academic socialization and exercising our freedom to choose for ourselves how we will define the nature of ‘good’ research while living side by side with other sets of criteria. This article will get you thinking about the quality criteria you set for your own research.

More on the relationship between qualitative analysis software and epistemology

Le Blanc, Amana Marie. 2017. ‘Disruptive Meaning-Making: Qualitative Data Analysis Software and Postmodern Pastiche.’ Qualitative Inquiry

In the book, we showed you screen captures of two qualitative analysis software packages we used to store, manage and analyse the material we gathered for our research. However, we did not discuss our choices in using qualitative analysis software, their assumptions and drawbacks. That is why it is worth having a look at this article by Amana Marie Le Blanc. She quickly reviews how the birth and spread of qualitative analysis software were tied to the lack of scientificity with which qualitative research was reproached in the positivist academic culture. While qualitative analysis software packages are indeed designed with the principles of systematization, transparency and efficiency in mind, Le Blanc’s contention is that those packages are only tools and they can be used in creative ways to transcend positivist norms. She demonstrates how she used such software to produce a relational, poststructuralist pastiche on the topic of women gamers.