Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Po-Po-Mo? WTF? Philosophy for Qual Researchers1


While psychology has historically been linked to philosophy (or is actually simply applied-philosophy) many contemporary psychologists have only a limited awareness of contemporary philosophical debates.

If you are a qualitative researcher, however, a lack of understanding of philosophy and the philosophical underpinnings of your methods will have serious implications for your research. You can be accused of studying blind, not seeing the paradigm in which you work and unable to be transparent about the match between your own values and those implied in your research. Qual researchers need to locate themselves philosophically before they start...

I thought Id write a few posts on philosophy for this reason, starting with contemporary debates and then perhaps moving backwards to explore some historical issues. I warn you...I only know enough to get myself in trouble...

One of the difficulties we have in psychology is that many of us haven't moved beyond research methods that are closely rooted in the empirical tradition. Grounded theory, for example, at least the original version, is built on the idea that the theory that emerges during the cycle of data collection and analysis is somehow REAL....that it truly represents what the participants experience. This is fundamentally flawed, given that the researcher is the tool by which data is analyzed....the results are CO-CONSTRUCTED and therefore grounded theory has been reconceptualised (see here for Adele Clarke).....

This reconfiguration of grounded theory was a post-modern development...based on the recognition that truth is socially constructed, local and based on a rejection of massive meta-narratives that dominate academic and cultural space.

What about now though? Is Post-modernism dead yet? what comes after it? what are the implications for qual researchers? po-po-mo?

If you read this long article from The Current there are so many options for what comes next...


...enough 'isms to make you go mental..

Im going to stick to METAMODERNISM because it makes the most sense to me and perhaps has some direct application to psychological research...Im going to try in my own words...go HERE for more, a great blog NOTES on METAMODERNISM

Postmodernism was essentially deconstructive, criticizing the quantitative/empirical tradition and hoping to dismantle it by revealing its agenda as one of social and cultural control.....it's not going to make us many friends and goes against the Ethic of Hospitality (Derrida)... Meta-modernism, however, leaves room for reconstruction and hope...it is based on the assumption that post-modernism was right, but makes room for new and exciting things to be built from the ruins...we can even go back and pick up a few modernist fragments

Paradoxically these new things can include both the products of modernism and post-modernism....we can design studies that rely on both qualitative and quantitative methods, but to develop quirky, innovative, nimble, locally relevant solutions to community problems...FREAK FOLK is metamodern...NEW SINCERITY is metamodern...small communities making things happen without pretending they are part of big movements are metamodern..

Meta- does not refer to one particular system of thought or specific structure of feeling. It infers a plurality of them, and repositions itself with and between them. It is many, but also one. Encompassing, yet fragmented. Now, yet then. Here, but also there.


  1. Where've you guys been my whole life?

  2. Yo mo fo no mo po po mo. My saying from the late 1980s, updated.