Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data across Multiple Perspectives

Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data across Multiple Perspectives

Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data across Multiple Perspectives

Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data across Multiple Perspectives

Synopsis

Winner of the 2013 American Educational Studies Association's Critics Choice Award!

Thinking With Theory In Qualitative Research shows how to use various philosophical concepts in practices of inquiry; effectively opening up the process of data analysis in qualitative research. It uses a common data set and utilizes various theoretical perspectives through which to view the data. It challenges qualitative researchers to use theory to accomplish a rigorous, analytic reading of qualitative data. "Plugging in" the theory and the data produces a variety of readings applying various theorists and their concepts, including:

  • Derrida - Deconstruction
  • Spivak - Postcolonial Marginality
  • Foucault - Power/Knowledge
  • Butler - Performativity
  • Deleuze - Desire
  • Barad - Material Intra-activity

Thinking With Theory In Qualitative Research pushes against traditional qualitative data analysis such as mechanistic coding, reducing data to themes, and writing up transparent narratives. These do little to critique the complexities of social life; such simplistic approaches preclude dense and multi-layered treatment of data. It shows that "thinking with theory" pushes research and data and theory to its exhaustion in order to produce knowledge differently. By refusing a closed system for fixed meaning, a new analytic is engaged to keep meaning on the move. The result is an extension of thought beyond an easy sense.

Special features of the book include schematic cues to help guide the reader through what might be new theoretical terrain, interludes that explain the possibilities of thinking with a particular concept and theorist and detailed chapters that plug the same data set into a specific concept. This vital tool will help researchers understand and fully utilize their powers of data analysis and will prove invaluable to both students and experienced researchers across all of the social sciences.

Excerpt

In this time of researching situations that we no longer understand – what Deleuze describes as “situations which we no longer know how to react to, in spaces which we no longer know how to describe” – we hope that what we are calling Thinking with Theory in Qualitative Research: Viewing Data Across Multiple Perspectives is a move to begin creating a language and way of thinking methodologically and philosophically together that is up to the task. in this book, we endeavor to explain how we think with theory in our current project, which centers on a rather conventional qualitative interview study (detailed here in the Introduction) of women professors in the academy who are first-generation college graduates. Drawing on six poststructural philosophers (Derrida, Spivak, Foucault, Butler, Deleuze, and Barad), we “plug in” the common data set and the theorists’ philosophical concepts. We read the same data across multiple theorists by plugging the theory and the data into one another, in keeping with Deleuze’s conceptual play of the zigzag: “The zigzag is the lightning bolt spark of creation and the ‘crosscutting path from one conceptual flow to another’, a path set off by the spark of creation, unpredictable, undisciplined, anti-disciplinary, and non-static.” the result of “thinking with theory” across the data illustrates how knowledge is opened up and proliferated rather than foreclosed and simplified.

Methodology: working within/against interpretivism

Our purpose in this book is to challenge qualitative researchers to use theory to think with their data (or use data to think with theory) in order to accomplish a reading of data that is both within and against interpretivism. We argue that qualitative data interpretation and analysis does not happen via mechanistic coding, reducing data to themes, and writing up transparent narratives that do little to critique the complexities of social life; such simplistic approaches preclude dense and multi-layered treatment of data. Furthermore, we challenge simplistic treatments of data and data analysis in qualitative research that, for example,

Gilles Deleuze, Cinema ii, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), xi.

Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues ii, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (1987; repr. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).

Lisa Mazzei and Kate McCoy, “Thinking with Deleuze in Qualitative Research.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 23, no. 5 (2010): 505. Note that Mazzei and McCoy are citing Stivale within the quote.

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