The Quest for Lived Truths

Modifying methodology

Authored by: Devorah Kalekin-Fishman

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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In the preface to the first edition of the Handbook of Qualitative Research, Denzin and Lincoln (1994, p. 9) allow that the

field of qualitative research is far from a unified set of principles promulgated by networked groups of scholars. In fact, we have discovered that the field of qualitative research is defined primarily by a series of essential tensions, contradictions, and hesitations. These tensions work back and forth among competing definitions and conceptions of the field.

While the term ‘methodology’ is generally understood to stand for a cluster of well-established practices governed by uncontested, perhaps even uncontestable, conventions, the literature shows that this understanding does not apply to research projects in narrative and life history. Although these are sometimes carried out according to a preplanned inflexible design, there is no consensus that compels a commitment to such types of work. As a result many researchers dedicate a significant proportion of their texts not only to explanations of what they have done but also to apologies for deviations from ‘the rules’. This chapter argues that an examination of significant works in the field provides convincing evidence that practices must be modified in order to uncover ‘lived truths’. It would seem that the interplay between the researcher and the subjects whose stories she is striving to understand is not only decisive in shaping and re-shaping methodologies. It is the cornerstone of the field.

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