Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Queering Methodologies: Challenging Scientific Constraint in the Appreciation of Queer and Trans Subjects

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Queering Methodologies: Challenging Scientific Constraint in the Appreciation of Queer and Trans Subjects

Article excerpt

"The object was to learn to what extent the effort to think one's own history can--free thought--from what it silently thinks, and so enable it to think differently." Michel Foucault

"Knowledge is not made for understanding, it is made for cutting." Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory

"Laughter in the face of serious categories is indispensable to feminism." Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

"Modernism is just, like, you know ... so over, dude" Jacques Derrida

Qualitative methodologies and inquiries are shackled by scientific discourse. The spectre of science that permeates qualitative-based research seeks to maintain a set of rules that operates under mechanistic invisibility and often wounds research subjects by treating them like sources of data/texts to dissect and study. This is not to say that all qualitative methodologies operate as a monolith, but that the foundations of qualitative methods, particularly the French positivist tradition of Kant and Durkheim, have been constructed with empirical scientism. There are qualitative studies that reject and/or challenge typical social/scientific foundational-based research and some of these studies will be discussed. I think that these methodologies, however, hold inquiry-based promise for arts and humanities research that questions human experience and social and cultural processes from perspectives that render scientific rationality problematic and open to critical review. Further, I propose a queer theoretical (feminist) implosion of the scientific foundation of qualitative methodologies to deconstruct and reconstruct an area of inquiry that is foregrounded in an appreciation of diversity vis-a-vis a rejection of codes, categories and thematic preoccupations. The objective of some social scientific-based qualitative methodologies is to prove a hypothesis by exposing "data" from human subjects. The application of scientific discourse to an understanding of human behaviour and experience in relation to cultural and social processes and specificities renders research participants as "test" subjects and entrenches them in what I call discourses of scientific constraint. Instead of enabling research participants to be the research and results, qualitative methodologies are often employed to use research participants as fact-based evidence for their research questions. Therefore, research subjects' experiences and testimonies act as--often, homogeneous--"truth" derived from observation and individual experiences. However, the individual experiences act as a universal construction of truth that ignores cultural and historical specificities. An interdisciplinary approach to deconstructing qualitative methodology born from scientific discourse will enable a queer (feminist) poststructuralist perspective on research design/preparation, narrative collection, analysis, representation and self-reflexivity that emphasizes polyvocality and alterity in the research results instead of universality and monolithic-based inquiries. I am using "narrative collection" instead of "data collection" here to mean any and all qualitative responses in interviewing, focus groups and surveys that resemble people telling their own stories as most qualitative work asks its participants to share stories and not "data."

I will queer qualitative methods to recognize and appreciate--listen to--diversity in what I call the pre-production, production and post-production of qualitative research. I use the three stages of film production to describe processes of qualitative inquiry because my specific area of questioning is through the lens of a camera. Metaphorically, however, I believe all qualitative work requires lenses and a fascination with seeing and hearing that mimics audiovisual approaches. Thus, the three stages organize the stages of qualitative work. A queer qualitative methodology will remain sensitive to queerness in all instances instead of trying to categorize and contain it. …

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