Chapter 40: Textual Genres and the Question of Representation
Margaret J. Somerville We now can embrace sophisticated theoretical stances on critical and qualitative race and ethnic perspectives, border voices, queer, feminist, indigenous and other non-Western lenses and epistemologies. Previous generations of inquirers could distinguish themselves simply as qualitative researchers; we know now that the field and its practitioners are neither unitary nor united, except in their critical and/or interpretive stances. (Denzin et al., 2006, p. 778) For over thirty years qualitative research has proliferated and flourished. During the past ten years there have been a number of attempts to characterize and defend the nature of the field and the various paradigms within it (for example, Atkinson and Delamont, 2006; St Pierre and Roulston, 2006; Cairns, 2010). In this chapter I take the approach that the strength of the field of qualitative research is that it is based on ‘difference’. A proliferation of methods of data collection and analysis has generated ongoing and rigorous debate. The debates concern the relationship between the subjects of our investigations – the people, including ourselves, whose lives we investigate – and the ways that we undertake the investigations. This includes an essential relationship to the means through which we represent the knowledge produced through our research in public and scholarly dissemination. While there have been varying responses to the pressures from national governments to reduce the breadth and complexity of the field (Denzin et al., 2006), qualitative research continues to grow in strength, coming of age in a new openness to examination as a tradition of...
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