Research Methods in Family Therapy

By Douglas H. Sprenkle; Fred P. Piercy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Performance Methodology
CONSTRUCTING DISCOURSES AND DISCURSIVE PRACTICES
IN FAMILY THERAPY RESEARCH

SALIHA BAVA

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

—KIERKEGAARD (quoted in Magee, 2001, p. 208)

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's words echo my experience of writing various research reports. I often find myself working backwards to construct what I have lived through. Even though I use a blueprint, I find myself at the “end” constructing a story to fit the acceptable frame in terms of using the “right” language, “right” format, and “right” presentation methods. There is a performative quality to the process, from proposal to research report. So when I had to work on my dissertation research, I chose to use an alternative research methodology that I call “performance.” The form of performance methodology I used draws heavily from autoethnography (Ellis & Bochner, 1996; Reed-Danahay, 1997) and interpretive writing (Denzin, 2003; Richardson, 1997). Piercy and Benson (2005) describe my research project (which they call a “multimethod computer-assisted autoethnography”) this way:

Saliha Bava (2001) recently completed a virtual, completely-on-line dissertation at Virginia
Tech. Her dissertation was an autoethnography of her research and personal experience
during her family therapy internship at the Houston Galveston Institute. She immersed her-
self in and reflectively explored both the culture of the Institute, and her experience of it.
She used many alternative forms of data representation—poetry, colors, animations, multi-
ple conversations (with others, herself, and the literature), split dialogues, and other meth-
ods to bring her findings to life. Her styles of narration (words, graphics, prose, poetry,
first person conversational texts, narratives, and collages) blurred the boundaries between
academic writing, literature, and art. At the same time, she used hypertext to ground her
own experience in relevant literature. She also had her committee reflect on their experi-
ences of reading her dissertation (in a “reflections” section of her dissertation), and then re-
sponded to these reflections. In postmodern fashion, she built into her dissertation both re-
cursion and reflection. (pp. 114–115)

-170-

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