Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

An Introduction to Transformative Inquiry: Understanding Compelling and Significant Relationships for Personal and Societal Transformation

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

An Introduction to Transformative Inquiry: Understanding Compelling and Significant Relationships for Personal and Societal Transformation

Article excerpt

Transformative Inquiry is presented as a philosophical and theoretical model designed to explore and consider the generative capabilities of compelling and significant relationships for becoming potentiating and transformative. Potentiating, for clarification, is any action taken by individuals that effectively causes something, or the relationship itself, to become potent--or, if you would prefer, creative, strong, capable, powerful, effective, empowered... healthy. Transformative inquiry, with an accordant qualitative research methodology, appropriately named deep heuristics, presents a methodological bridge that serves to facilitate both the transformation of our understanding of any transformative phenomenon, to include individuals, relationships, and place (community, organization, school, home), as well as ourselves as researchers.

This paper begins with an introduction of the philosophical and theoretical frameworks that undergird this work and locates Transformative Inquiry as a viable methodological framework for exploring and considering the generative capabilities of compelling and significant relationships. As such, attention is given to:

1. Deep ecology/axiology: What is the role of values?

2. Transdisciplinarity/ontology: What is the nature of reality?

3. Integral Meta-Theory/epistemology: What is the role of truth?

4. Heuristic Research/methodological: What is the process?

5. Eudaimonistic Philosophy/rhetorical: What is the language of potential?

The balance of the paper is used to explore the capabilities of Transformative Inquiry to inform and transform a deeper heuristic research methodological process. Deep Heuristics builds upon, expands, and deepens the existing heuristic methodology (Moustakas, 1990) for exploring and considering the generative capabilities of compelling and significant relationships. A subsequent article will elaborate the deep heuristic methodology and offer a step-by-step guide for researchers.

Transformative Inquiry is both related to and distinct from other methodological approaches that consider transformation of and in the methodological process. Transformative Inquiry is distinct from other approaches through both its structure and content, a specific and unique combination of the axiological, ontological, epistemological, methodological, and rhetorical components upon which it is based, as discussed throughout this paper. It is related to other methodological approaches in that it seeks to address a need for transformation in the ways in which research is engaged and produced. Others have identified deficiencies in existing research approaches in terms of how researchers engage with qualitative questions. Keating (2013), for example, argued compellingly for a transformation in the way in which researchers engage with and consider a subject by moving away from dualistic, oppositional approaches towards wholly inclusive, post-oppositional ones. Kakali Bhattacharya explored the use of mind-body contemplative practices as an epistemology directing inquiry that produces transformed ways of discovering and representing knowledge (Bhattacharya, 2017; Bhattacharya & Cochrane, 2017).

Transformative Inquiry is directly related to the growing number of transpersonal research methods (Anderson & Braud, 2011; Braud & Anderson, 1998). These methodologies, in general, present an expanded view of research. Transformative Inquiry is better understood with a little further introduction of the transpersonal. The meaning of transpersonal is well articulated by Daniels (2005), "transpersonal may be said to be more or less about the spiritual dimension of life, or about human spirituality" [all italics in original] (p. 12). In addition, Daniels explicated what the authors believe to be the importance of the transpersonal: "If there is one common central theme to the concept of the transpersonal it is about the profound transformation of our usual egoic, self-centered existence to some ultimately more satisfying or valuable condition" (Daniels, 2005, p. …

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