Interpretive Researcher Roles

PHENOMENOLOGY: A viewer centered theory with emphasis on personal experience. This perspective stresses personal lived experience (i.e., embodied meaning). Meaning depends on bodily perceptions and personal interpretations. The researcher seeks to understand how people make sense of the world for themselves.

Paul Ricoeur: Discourse (is not language but message). To study literature from a phenomenological approach you need to “define the boundaries of the idea of text” (Ricouer, 1981, p. 90). The first “boundary” is a triangulation of one who speaks, one who listens & answers, & “the world of things which one talks about” (Ricouer, 1981, p. 90).

A Phenomenology Interpretive Process: Set aside everyday way of seeing and experience as though seeing the situation for the first time (recognize & set aside observer's filters) by:

  • Receptiveness (Recognize that you have a strong personal response.)
  • Orienting & Bracketing (Document response noting what is unique to the experience)
  • Grounding & Interpretative Analysis (List observations - next to it list interpretive meanings. This sets up a self-reflexive dialogue)
  • Synthesis (Look for shared interpretations within the context)
CRITICAL THEORY: the role of the researcher is to attempt to construct meaning through consensus by uncovering the biases that privilege some positions and marginalize others. Examine the unique and shared meanings
INTERPRETATIVE ANAYLTICS: the researcher assumes consensus is impossible and instead seeks to tell alternative interpretations and stories.

DECONSTRUCTION: is a semiotics-derived analysis that reveals the multiplicity of potential meanings generated by the discrepancy between the ostensible content of a “text” (which may be a work of art) and the system of the visual, cultural, or linguistic limits from which it springs.

  • From this approach the researcher acknowledges that any concept is based more in what it is NOT than what it is.
  • Two forms of deconstruction: Displace to redefine, or displace and never define.
  • Deconstruction is a process of inverting to find meaning--it seeks to identify contradictory positions and dismantle them. It exposes the relationship of differences in relation to object/subject studies. It is a process to permanently contest a site of meaning. “The subject/object relationship is perpetually destabilized in the wake of an increasing number of possible (re) presentations” (Elam, 1994, p. 30).
  • Perpetual displacement as an inquiry tool maintains the uncertainty of naming and defining and it continually raises the question, "Who gets to name what?".
  • Deconstruction is at odds with phenomenological methods.
  • “Deconstruction challenges the phenomenological claims which have often served as the foundation of feminism. That is to say, deconstruction argues that we will not become conscious of the true essence of woman through an endless recourse to descriptions of experiences of or by women” (Elam, 1994, p. 30).
  • Deconstruction concerns issues of difference (social, racial, sexual) to acknowledge without reinforcing or denying conflict with the other.
  • Elam argues that “feminist analysis must be a deconstruction of representation that keeps the category of women incessantly in question, as a permanently contested site of meaning” (1994, p. 41).