'The authors need to be applauded for seeking new methods of research and for raising challenging questions. This is essential reading for any qualitative researcher' - British Journal of Occupational Therapy This is both a 'how to' book and one that critically reviews many of the assumptions, claims and methods of qualitative research. Applying a psycho-social understanding of subjectivity to research practice involves conceptualising researcher and researched as co-producers of meanings in the research relationship. The authors use the notion of the "defended subject" to indicate that people will defend themselves against any anxieties in the information they provide in a research context. To interpret interviewees' responses should entail developing a method in which narratives are central, as should a strategy of interpretation in which interviewees' free associations are given precedence over narrative coherence. The authors call this the free-association narrative interview. They follow this approach through the phases of empirical research practice.
At each stage they use examples from their own research, and end with an extended case study which demonstrates the uses of the free-assocaition interview method in representing the richness, complexity and biographical uniqueness of the research subject. This will be an essential tool for students of qualitative research, but will also be of interest to experienced researchers who are open to doing qualitative research differently.
Table of Contents
Introduction The Need to Do Research Differently Researching the Fear of Crime Producing Data with Defended Subjects Analyzing Data with Defended Subjects The Ethics of Researching Psychosocial Subjects Biography, Demography and Generalisability A Psychosocial Case Study
Research Interests I have researched and published on questions to do with identity, gender relations, parenting, the capacity to care, qualitative methodology and epistemology, history of psychology. A uniting theme is the development of a 'psycho-social' approach, that is one that does not reduce to exclusively sociological or psychological accounts of identity, experience and relationships. I make use of psychoanalytic ontology and epistemology to inform my psycho-social research, substantively and methodologically. My recent Fellowship "Maternal Identities, Care and Intersubjectivity" develops an earlier ESRC-funded study (with Ann Phoenix) under the Identities and Social Action programme about the identity transition involved when women become mothers for the first time. It is based on the unique data set derived from psychoanalytically-informed interview and observation methods. It takes further my work on theorising identity processes and new methodological approaches for researching identities. These constitute the themes for my current book, working title 'Knowing Mothers'.