Beyond Method: Philosophical Conversations in Healthcare Research and Scholarship

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Beyond Method: Philosophical Conversations in Healthcare Research and Scholarship edited by Pamela M. Ironside, PhD, RN: Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005, 368 pages; $60.00 (paperback, $24.95)

Fourth in a series entitled "Interpretive Studies in Healthcare and the Human Sciences," Beyond Method focuses on the philosophical issues that undergird the theoretical perspectives of interpretive phenomenology, critical social theory, feminist theory, and postmodern approaches in practice and research. While the focus of the series is to encourage health care practitioners and researchers to consider the use of these perspectives, this work seems to be targeted more toward doctoral students and researchers who are grappling with how to best investigate the lived experiences of patients and practitioners. With that said, practitioners and master's students who read this book will also gain insight into different ways of viewing the worlds of practice and academe.

Definitely not a "how to" book, Beyond Method causes the reader to call into question typical assumptions on which research studies are built. Depending on the reader's needs, each chapter can be read in isolation from the others. Yet, unless the reader has the grounding in interpretive phenomenology and the works of Heidegger and Gadamer, which is provided in the first chapter by John Diekelmann, understanding the rest of the book may be difficult. In addition to reading this synthesis of the main precepts of Heidegger and Gadamer, one should read their original works. All chapters have extensive bibliographies that can lead the reader to a variety of exploratory paths to pursue.

One theme that recurs throughout the book is that research is as much a political process as a scientific process. For example, Kavanagh states, "There is no full separation of ideology and politics from methodology, but there is responsible recognition in representing."

Another theme is, dig deeper--not all is what it appears to be. …