SQIP Annual Conference
May 14, 2015 | The Graduate Center, City University of New York | New York, NY
Opening Plenary Session (8:15 am – 9:10 am)
Welcome & Session Introduction
Marco Gemignani (President of SQIP, Duquesne University)
Qualitative Inquiry: Promises and Pitfalls
Kenneth J. Gergen (Swarthmore College), Ruthellen Josselson (Fielding Graduate University), & Mark Freeman (College of the Holy Cross)
In this session we explore the promises of qualitative inquiry for the field of psychology, as well as potential pitfalls. In our view, the discipline is enriched in new and important ways. Most prominently, the qualitative movement brings with it a pluralist orientation to knowledge and to practices of inquiry. Adding to the traditional view of knowledge as empirically supported theory, are research practices congenial with varying accounts of knowledge, including for example, knowledge as hermeneutic understanding, social construction, and practice-based experience. Added to the goal of prediction are investments in increasing cultural understanding, challenging cultural conventions, and directly fostering social change. The qualitative movement also enriches the discipline as a whole through the special ways in which it inspires new ranges of theory, fosters minority inclusion, and invites inter-disciplinary collaboration. Finally, the movement holds promise in terms of the discipline’s contribution to society at large. Here we focus on the advantages of knowing with others in addition to about them, and on ways in which qualitative work enhances communication with the society and the world. Realizing these potentials, however, will mean confronting a number of major challenges. Developments in responsible research and reporting, academic and journal policies, along with the discipline’s capacities for appreciating a more comprehensive orientation to inquiry are all at stake.
Concurrent Session I (9:15 am – 10:45 am)
Panel I-A: Pluralism in Qualitative Research: Emerging Theory or Incompatible Differences?
Nollaig Frost (Chair, Middlesex University); Frauke Elichaoff (Middlesex University), Ross Neville (University of Birmingham), & Deborah Rodriguez (Middlesex University)
Pluralism in qualitative research is emerging in the social sciences as a new approach to looking across differences in qualitative paradigms, techniques and practices in the quest to find out more about human experience and the worlds we inhabit. It seeks to gain insight that is more holistic and with less potential for reductionism than the use of single methods alone. Pluralistic qualitative research calls on researchers to select and use methods that individually provide insight, and collectively work in dialogue with each other to produce multiple, complex and varied understandings of phenomena. It seeks to identify and incorporate difference rather than obscure it by working flexibly within the gaps, contradictions and agreements within data and methods that this approach can highlight. With this comes challenges of combining epistemologies and ontologies, of working as a lone researcher, or as part of a team, and of combining within one paradigm or across many. This symposium aims to discuss and demonstrate some of the theoretical implications of using pluralistic qualitative research by presenting a collection of four papers, to be delivered by graduate students and mid-career researchers. Two papers will consider philosophical underpinnings and methodological concerns. The other two papers will present empirical research conducted using analytical and methodologically pluralistic approaches to consider the critical application and value of this approach. The papers will describe the challenges, creative tensions and practices of combining qualitative paradigms in psychological research, and raise questions about the theory and practice of its use. Each paper will evaluate this new addition to the qualitative inquiry platform from theoretical and empirical perspectives. Together the collection will challenge the symposium audience to consider the applications and implications of pluralistic qualitative research in the pursuit of multi-layered insight to human experience.
- Nollaig Frost: “Pluralism in Qualitative Research: Methodological Prospects and Challenges”: Pluralism in qualitative research regards the complexity of human experience as being best understood from multi-dimensional perspectives, and sees the world that humans inhabit as multi-epistemological and multi-ontological. It mixes qualitative methods in pursuit of a more holistic insight to human experience than the use of one method alone can bring by allowing for the combining of worldviews that can range from realist, to interpretative to constructionist. Each method is selected to both stand alone, and work in dialogue with the others so that multiple layers of insight can develop. The pluralistic qualitative approach does not seek to validate claims made by research but instead to explore the threads of human experience and allow for both coherence and fragmentary understanding. This approach can explore contradictions and gaps in meanings, as well as find convergence amongst them. The qualitative pluralistic approach can be particularly valuable when researching experiences that do not have ontological consensus, such as anomalous experience, where meaning can vary, such as for people suffering episodes of mental illness, or where there is ‘insider’ status in the research such as when mothers research mothers. This paper will consider theoretical and empirical implications of the employment of methodologically pluralistic qualitative approaches, how they can bring an inherent demand for greater transparency in the research process, and in the choice and employment of research methods. It will discuss how this in turn can enhance the credibility of the research outcomes. The implications of these issues will be considered in relation to the reflexive awareness and engagement with the research process that employment of each method brings.
- Ross Neville: “On Pragmatism, Paradigms and Pluralistic Qualitative Research”: How do we make the case for pluralistic qualitative research? In this presentation it will be argued that talk of alternative, competing, shifting and merging paradigms has been both an emancipatory and a limiting strategy when it comes to answering this question. It has loosened disciplinary constraints on inquiry, opening up an environment in which researchers can feel justified in studying felt and lived dimensions of phenomena. Yet it has also resulted in the cleavage of a constraining and unhelpful dichotomy which is commonly regarded in terms of an opposition between positivism vs interpretivism. In this presentation I challenge this dichotomy, and further, the argument that there is such a thing as an ‘interpretivist paradigm’ at all. I consider this specifically in an evaluation of the future development of pluralistic qualitative research. Following Kuhn, I suggest that we are better off thinking of all paradigms as interpretative: meta-belief systems that guide the development of theories and concepts, procedures through which data is generated, and the criteria through which data-as-knowledge is evaluated. Rather than regarding paradigms as alternative ways of knowing the world, I will argue that we are better off thinking about them as alternative ways of describing it: ways of formalizing scientific practices in order to make claims about the world according to certain agreed upon standards of justification. Understanding Kuhn as having said that scientific practices are based on pragmatic as opposed to philosophical criteria – i.e. they enable the scientist to render her object of analysis formal so as to produce effects – allows for a fleshing out of the value of pragmatism for pluralistic qualitative researchers. In so doing, I conclude that marking a sharp distinction between pragmatism and mere practicalism seems to offer a positive opportunity for driving pluralistic research forward.
- Deborah Rodriguez: “A Methodological Reflection on the Application of Qualitative Pluralistic Research”: Qualitative pluralistic approaches combine at all levels of analysis and interpretation to provide a more holistic insight to phenomena than can be gained using one method alone. Use and status of each method is determined by its combination with others. Crucially, this approach recognises the plurality of epistemological and ontological paradigms underlying each of the qualitative approaches, and values the tensions and benefits of combining methods within paradigms as well as across them. Such a focus allows for flexibility in research design to better promote tailored insight to complexities of human experience. In this methodological reflection, I draw on my doctoral research to discuss how pluralism enables insight to couples’ relational experiences by reporting on the earlier phases of a longitudinal study of parents expecting a second child over a year long period, stemming from pregnancy and extending to the early months after birth. This pluralistic exploration uses a psychosocial approach, narrative analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis to show how both partners of couples (re)construct their sense of selves as individuals, and how they (re)construct their relationships. This example highlights the benefits and challenges, both epistemological and practical, of working across interpretivist and constructivist paradigms in pursuit of deeper and more holistic insight to couples’ relational experiences as they transition to second-time parenthood.
- Frauke Elichaoff: “Implementing a Pluralistic Approach to Research the Experiences of Adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions”: This paper describes how a pluralistic approach offers rich exploratory insight to accounts provided by individuals with a condition where communication difficulties are one of the core symptoms of their lifestyles. The study explores the lived experiences of adults on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, who are approaching late adulthood. Employing a pluralistic approach enables minimisation of the imposition of assumptions about the nature of the lived experiences of adults growing older with autism, and for further research to be developed out of the richness of the data. Although the study was not originally conceptualised to be pluralistic in its methodology, during the process of the initial scoping study, which used interviews and thematic analysis, it became apparent that the inquiry required ‘something more’ in order to better understand the complexity both of the experiences of the participants, and of their narration of their experiences. . This study aimed not only to develop a more holistic insight to the experiences of the participants by combining qualitative methods to bring multiple perspectives to exploring the complexity of the experience, but also to narrow the gap between insider and outsider positions for the researcher, particularly relevant in my case as I am both a psychology researcher and mother of a child with autism. Ian Hacking developed the theory that the narratives of individuals with autism create a ‘not previously existing’ language to describe their experience, which in turn affects how non-autistic individuals perceive the nature of autism. Changing these perceptions about people with autism in turn affects their own experiences, creating a cycle of changing perceptions. The pluralistic methodology that I employ allows both for engagement with the question of how autistic experience and autistic narratives are intertwined, and an enhancement of the reflexive stance adopted in this study through careful choice and rationale for the choice and use of each method brought to the study.
Panel I-B: The Geographies of Broken Windows
Brett Stoudt (Chair, CUNY); Kim Belmonte (CUNY), Priscilla Bustamante (CUNY), Caitlin Cahill (Pratt Institute), Jennifer Chmielewski (CUNY), Michelle Fine (CUNY), Gaurav Jashnani (CUNY), Amanda Matles (CUNY), Talia Sandwick (CUNY), & Maria Torre (CUNY)
In recent years, police in New York City and elsewhere have come under increasing scrutiny, to a degree unseen since before September 2001. As organizers, activists and researchers have challenged practices of policing, the analysis of administrative data has helped to make and articulate arguments about highly racialized and geographic disparities. At the same time, these analyses have not been sufficient to illuminate the complexity of lived experiences of policing and surveillance – including how they are embodied, unfold within urban geographies, and are resisted and circumvented. How does the constant drone(s) of surveillance and policing live in bodies and alter individuals’ relationships to public space and to one another? How do situated, embodied experiences of policing generate opportunities for resistance and desire for something else? Our panel illustrates the contributions to be made by qualitative methodologies – particularly those oriented around place and embodiment – in research on urban policing in community and school settings. The use of varied qualitative approaches to policing research allows us to deepen our understanding of aggressive zero tolerance (i.e., order maintenance, “broken windows”) policing and surveillance of young people of color and other targeted groups in New York City. Reflecting on four Public Science Project studies conducted in collaboration with community members and organizations, we will explore how such methods are able to document how policing moves into the body and transforms the fabric of daily life—and to highlight the ways that individuals and groups respond to and resist these invasive alterations. By attending not only to experiences of state violence, but also to imagination, resistance and desire, our panel hopes to offer ways of nuancing and rethinking impacts of policing and ideas of justice in the lives of youth of color and other targeted community members.
- Gaurav Jashnani, Priscilla Bustamante, & Brett Stoudt: “Taking the Long Way: The Human Costs of Order Maintenance Policing”: In recent months, Eric Garner – a Black man murdered this past July by NYPD officers after allegedly selling individual cigarettes – has stood in throughout the mass media for the case against order maintenance policing. Since the early 1990s, order maintenance policing has spread out from New York City (NYC) to become the preeminent approach to urban law enforcement. This paradigm – which seeks to uphold public order through surveillance and aggressive enforcement of minor offenses (e.g., graffiti, marijuana possession, turnstile jumping, panhandling) in ‘disorderly’ urban areas – has been critiqued for its highly disparate and heavy-handed practices, as well as theorized as a reconfiguration of public space that targets certain populations as inherent dangers to public safety and social order. While many have criticized the harassment and brutality visited upon low-communities of color within this framework, few researchers have attempted to identify and theorize the broader impacts of these policing practices upon the individual and collective lives of those targeted. Our work focuses on how NYC residents experience the collateral (e.g. emotional, financial, psychological) impacts and embodied consequences of order-maintenance policing. We present the use of mapping and walking interviews as tools to examine embodied and spatial experiences of order maintenance policing, discussing how these methods can help us understand the ways such policing alters individuals’ relationships to public space – and their own bodies. Furthermore, we describe how qualitative research has been a vital component of related quantitative work, using qualitative data to construct surveys that can offer space to meaningfully document and engage New Yorkers’ experiences of policing. Finally, we consider the various forms of resistance that individuals prioritize in their everyday lives, and the situated and expert knowledge of targeted urban residents regarding safety, racialization and resistance to police violence.
- Caitlin Cahill & Amanda Matles: “Mirrored Windows: Young People, Police & the Gentrifying City”: In the wake of the Ferguson verdict that exonerated the police officer who killed Michael Brown, young people of color are leading the way, appropriating public spaces for marches, rallies and demonstrations, blocking highways and bridges in cities across the country, and calling attention to the deadly and persistent injustices of ongoing police and state violence. Closer to home, here in Brooklyn, New York, we trace the changing geopolitical context for young people’s experiences of zero tolerance policies in public space over time and space –from the 1994 revanchist “Reclaiming our Public Spaces” policing policy to the present. Drawing upon an intergenerational participatory action research project Researchers for Fair Policing, we report upon young people’s everyday experiences of “being policed” in their homes, schools, and communities. Our analysis considers the contradictions of Broken Windows policing policy in the contemporary context of gentrification. Here, the mirrored windows of new towering condos reflect not only the spectacle of the new young “hip” Brooklyn, but also the spectacle of the everyday stop & frisk experiences of young black and brown men. We ask, how are these contradictions lived and experienced by young people of color? And, what are we learning at this particular political moment about neoliberal global urban restructuring from young people’s experiences of police? And, what’s the role of public space in the struggle against social and spatial exclusion? Paying attention to not only what’s wrong, but what is collectively desired for our present and future lives, we consider how a critical participatory action research framework might offer new ways of making and remaking our cities and ourselves in social justice, and a new geographical imagination for collective spatial justice & investment in social reproduction.
- Talia Sandwick & Amanda Matles: “Nothing is Precious: Rapid Research as a Participatory Tool for Studying Youth Experiences of Policing”: For many young people of color, policing and surveillance is woven into their daily lives, reaching from the streets into their homes and schools. In New York City, police patrol apartment buildings, school safety agents are normalized, metal detectors flank school entrances, and cameras line the halls. While many consequences of these practices are overt (e.g., the physical violence perpetrated by policing entities), such ubiquity sometimes renders the more subtle impacts invisible and difficult to name. This presentation will discuss the use of a participatory action research (PAR) method intended to amplify these quieter consequences: Rapid Research. Developed during a recent PAR project with youth co-researchers from the Bushwick Action Research Collective, Rapid Research privileges “doing” over “planning,” throwing the research team into time-limited research activities—mini surveys, video shorts, mapping, and beyond—as a means to illuminate the research questions embedded in daily life. Building on the foundation of popular education theorists and Vygotsky’s activity theory, Rapid Research stands firmly in opposition to notions of “the thought process… as an autonomous flow of ‘thoughts thinking themselves,’ segregated from the fullness of life, from the personal needs and interests, the inclinations and the impulses of the thinker” (Vygotsky, 1934/1986, p. 10). This presentation will explore how this emphasis on “learning by doing” (Dewey and Dewey, 1915) opened up new avenues for understanding youth experiences of policing and surveillance in their schools and communities.
- Kimberly Belmonte, Jennifer Chmielewski, Brett Stoudt, Maria Torre, & Michelle Fine: “Que(e)rying School Discipline Research: Using Mixed Qualitative Methods to Understand Queer Students’ Experience of Surveillance”: A growing body of work examines the impact of zero tolerance discipline policies in educational institutions. Research has demonstrated racial disparities in school discipline practices (Stoudt, Fine & Fox, 2011) and a small number of studies have found that LGBTQ youth (e.g., Poteat et al, under review) and gender non-conforming (GNC) youth (Himmelstein & Bruckner, 2011) also experience disproportionate surveillance and discipline. Our recent participatory research with young people in New York City found that LGBTQ and gender non-conforming (GNC) youth of color experienced higher rates of school discipline (e.g., suspension) and negative experiences with school safety agents (Stoudt et al, forthcoming). The current study employs multiple qualitative methods to gain a deeper understanding of how the intersections of race, sexuality and gender are related to disciplinary practices and surveillance of LGBTQGNC youth of color in New York City public schools. We analyze visual and qualitative data from four focus groups conducted with queer youth of color from NYC public schools and community organizations. Focus groups used identity mapping activities and a semi-structured interview protocol to query student’s experiences of safety and surveillance. We focus our analysis on circuits of dispossession and resistance, examining how surveillance and exclusion can move under the skin of marginalized youth, and the conditions under which they mobilize a collective sense of resistance. We will discuss how: 1) unjust school policies and harassment from peers and staff relate to a hostile school climate; 2) how this hostile climate is related to students’ experience of gender/sexuality and feelings of safety; and 3) the strengths, and forms of resistance that students use to survive, challenge and reimagine existing educational environments. We conclude with recommendations for research and school policy.
Panel I-C: Ethics of Video in Psychological Research and Social Justice Work
Stephanie M. Anderson (Chair, CUNY); Alvaro Ayala (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso), Cristian Landeros (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso), Wendy Luttrell (CUNY), & Carolina Muñoz-Proto (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso)
As video continues to take more primacy in our culture and create new contexts and meanings for psychological understanding, researchers must acknowledge the empirical potentials of video while confronting the ethical issues that arise within this uncharted territory. In this symposium we explore ethical questions that arise with video in psychological research. In particular, we consider ethical concerns in relation to research on and in collaboration with marginalized populations and the potentialities of video to work toward social justice. As a framework for subsequent papers, in the first paper, the author considers three key areas of ethical concern for work with video: informed consent, confidentiality and representation. Informed by critical and feminist perspectives, she differentiates between ethical requirements and ethical responsibilities in order to propose questions for researchers to consider in video work with marginalized as well as advantaged populations. The second and third papers apply these ethical questions to empirical and community-based research projects that utilize video. In the second paper, the author reflects upon an online video archival project on peace and nonviolence and discusses the risks and benefits of video testimonies. Specifically, she deliberates the potentialities of video testimony for community activists and leaders and considers issues of ownership and ongoing representational consent. In the final paper, the authors draw upon video work and the use of photovoice in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project with a group of young sexual-minority women. As straight male researchers, they reflect on their positionality and the ethical challenges of the co-production of images that address heterosexism. They also discuss their rationale to use photovoice as opposed to documentary film in their PAR project. Taken together, these presentations voice essential questions for psychologists to address as the discipline “upgrades” to incorporate video within empirical inquiries and social justice work.
- Stephanie M. Anderson: “Ethical Requirements and Ethical Responsibilities with Video in Psychological Research”: Recent technological advancements in video have created new contexts and meanings for psychological understanding as well as opportunities for research methodologies. With these disciplinary expansions come new ethical questions for psychologists to consider. As federal and disciplinary codes, The Belmont Report (1992) and the APA Ethics Code (2002) specify a number of ethical requirements that psychologists must fulfill in order to meet their ethical obligations. Although these codes provide a legal framework for video work, arguably, in confronting ethical issues, psychologists also turn to their personal values for the interpretation and implementation of these guidelines. The notion of ethical responsibilities describes a sense of ethical obligation(s) based upon epistemological orientations of the researcher. While reference to personal epistemology is a central tenant of qualitative research more generally, the terrain of video raises novel ethical dilemmas and reframes other ethical issues in work with participants. With a theoretical framework of ethical requirements and responsibilities, in this presentation I aim to cultivate the ethical foundation for the use of video within psychological inquiry. My intent is not to exhaustively discuss all potential ethical dilemmas that may emerge but to rather consider the most pressing ethical issues as they relate to issues of social justice in work with marginalized and disadvantaged individuals and groups. Specifically, I discuss issues of informed consent, confidentiality and representation that surface with the integration of video in psychological research and propose questions as well as recommendations for how video can best be ethically implemented within psychological inquiry.
- Carolina Muñoz-Proto: “Video Testimonies in the Study and Promotion of Social Justice and Nonviolence Activism”: Due to technological advances and an epistemological turn toward a valuation of first person accounts, testimonies have become more relevant as a social practice and as political and cultural tools (Assmann, 2006; Wieviorka, 2006). These changes invite feminist and otherwise critical psychologists to reflect on the ethics of testimonies as tools to study and accompany community-based efforts for social justice. Drawing from projects in psychology and related fields, the presentation will propose a set of questions that psychologists should ask themselves about their use of video testimonies, especially in post-colonial and post-conflict settings. On the topic of confidentiality and anonymity, these questions will invite reflection about representational risks and benefits of video testimonies, as well as about the consent process. On the topic of power and knowledge construction, these questions will invite psychologists to reflect about the conditions needed for members of marginalized communities to position themselves as experts of their own experiences. Regarding the use of testimonies, the presentation will offer a set of questions that can guide negotiations about the use and ownership of the testimonies that result from a project. These questions will seek to generate dialogue and reflection not only about ethical requirements but also about the ethical responsibilities of psychologists working with video testimonies.
- Alvaro Ayala & Cristian Landeros: “Video or Photovoice? Ethical Dilemmas in Research on Heterosexism in an All-Girls’ High School”: In this presentation, we will discuss the ethics of video and photovoice in a social justice work with youth. We draw from our experience in a Chilean high school, where we collaborated with a group of sexual-minority women to co-construct critical perspectives about heterosexism. Within a Participatory Action Research (PAR) framework, this social justice collective has prioritized visualizing and studying discrimination practices that happen in their high school. Specifically, we have sought to problematize prejudices and stereotypes of students who identify as lesbians or are in a same-sex relationship. Despite having the consent of the principal for this project, affectionate expressions among students continue to be repressed. From our position as male researchers and allies, in this presentation we reflect on the ethical dimensions of co-producing images that could expose the students to further discrimination. We will describe the ethical challenges the team faced in using photovoice and sharing our findings with the school community. We will also consider on the ethical differences between video documentary and photovoice as tools to transform school policies and why we left the original idea of making a documentary that would have recorded our process with the students. Finally, we describe the implementation and development of photovoice tool in the process of PAR.
- Wendy Luttrell: Discussant
Panel I-D: Making Words Count: A Research Team Approach to Promote and Create Strengths-Based, Culturally Informed, Applied Qualitative Research in Psychology
Anne E. Brodsky (Chair, UMBC); Sara L. Buckingham (UMBC), Lindsay Emery (UMBC), Jill E. Scheibler (Carson Research Consulting), & Gitika Talwar (Cowlitz Tribal Health)
Even as qualitative research has gained increased acceptance in the field of psychology, training rigor, expectations, and opportunities have continued to lag. Stern (1994) warned of the impact of “minus mentoring” on method quality, reflecting on the false perception, which often exists, that qualitative methods, unlike quantitative, can be easily learned by reading a chapter or two. This symposium will provide examples from a qualitative research team process that has been producing culturally informed, strengths-based, applied qualitative research at multiple levels, as well as training and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in qualitative methods for 18 years. Using examples from the array of team-produced, qualitative research – ranging in focus from formative evaluation of a job training program for underserved urban women in Baltimore, MD; to in-depth field study of risk, resilience, and the role of community in the lives of Afghan women and women’s organizations; to interview study of immigration attitudes and experiences among Latino immigrants and members of the receiving community in the Baltimore/DC corridor – the first presenter will explore, from the perspective of a faculty member, the process and pedagogy used to provide undergraduate and graduate students with experiential training that combines culturally competent, standpoint-informed, qualitatively rigorous, applied research experiences with the production of high quality research. The next four presentations, two by Ph.D. level research team alumnae and two by current graduate students, will describe their processes and experiences as trainees working on a qualitative team, as well as the producers of independent research that carried team training, values, and precepts into individual projects at a variety of levels – organization, family, and individual – in a range of community settings – community arts, Latino immigrant families, Afghan refugees, and bi-racial students – and using an array of qualitative approaches.
- Anne E. Brodsky: “Making Words Count in Psychology Training and Research”: This paper will present an overview of a team-based training approach that uses a mentorship and graduated apprenticeship model to both teach and create quality qualitative research with undergraduate and graduate psychology students. The overarching goals of all work taught and produced over the past 18 years has been a focus on strengths-based, culturally informed, applied qualitative research, which explores risks and resilience processes across multiple levels – from the individual to the societal. The basis for this work is in the precepts of community psychology, with a concern for community involvement, cultural competence, meaningful application, and social justice. These aims are well served by qualitative approaches, focused on theory discovery, local knowledge, and emic-understandings. Our research team format has also created rich opportunities for exploration of culture, standpoint, and reflexivity within and among a diverse group of researchers and communities served (e.g. Brodsky, 2001; Brodsky et al., 2004.) Examples from the array of small budget, team produced, qualitative research – including evaluation study of a job training program for underserved urban women in Baltimore, MD; field study of risk, resilience, and the role of community in the lives of Afghan women and women’s organizations; interview study of immigration attitudes, and experiences among Latino immigrants and receiving-community members in the Baltimore/DC corridor – will be presented from the perspective of a faculty member. The use of experiential opportunities that iteratively match team assignments to student trainees’ levels of ability and experience has been an effective method to promote the methods, skills, values, and commitments of qualitative methods in order to produce high quality qualitative research while simultaneously producing high quality qualitative researchers.
- Jill E. Scheibler: “Whose Emic is Whose?: Tempering Insider Knowledge and Identity-Based Blind Spots to Produce Rich, Ethical, and Multi-Leveled Research”: In this presentation, a research team alumna will discuss her experiences conducting two independent qualitative projects that implicated intersections of her developing professional and researcher identities as she honed her skills as a culturally-competent qualitative researcher in a team context. Over approximately four years, the presenter undertook multi-leveled inquiries that examined processes within community-based arts organizations (CBAOs) aimed at empowering underserved youth to pursue transformative change in Baltimore City. Her studies fit within growing bodies of work undertaken to help organizations match intentions to actions in order to be effective and sustainable; however, CBAOs and organizational-level phenomena had been relatively understudied in psychology. Prior to entering graduate school and joining the research team, the presenter— herself a local community arts practitioner and art therapist— had observed and heard compelling anecdotes about the impacts of art on individuals and communities, and aimed to fill gaps in extant knowledge by applying community psychology approaches to this topic. Here, she will highlight lessons learned from navigating relationships within dual, and often vacillating, insider/arts practitioner and outsider/researcher roles as she completed first an organizational case study (observations; youth focus groups; staff interviews) for her M.A., and then a cross-organizational qualitative study (in-depth interviews with former youth members from three organizations) for her Ph.D. Although relatively small in scale, each produced rich understandings of how multi-leveled impacts of art programs can be grown, felt, internalized, and acted upon. Qualitative research – uniquely suited to discovery, description, and exploring subjectivities – allowed and necessitated keeping participants’ voices at the forefront of inquiry. The presenter will describe how simultaneously working on a qualitative research team focused on rigorous and ethical cross-cultural research enabled her to balance dual roles within a community context that was almost hyper-local to her in order to overcome pitfalls of assumed emic-ness.
- Gitika Talwar: “Into the Looking Glass: Conducting Qualitative Inquiry within Communities with Whom You Perceive Kinship”: The role of qualitative researcher as instrument becomes particularly pronounced when the qualitative exploration is with a population that has socio-cultural proximity to the community with which the researcher identifies. An Indian researcher on the team conducted an exploration of the migration experiences of first-generation Afghan-Americans. This particular research project served as an opportunity to reflect on the myriad implications of cultural, historical and geographical linkages between the researcher and the researched. In the context of this research project, the researcher identified as an international migrant from India and perceived a shared connection with the participants in her research study who had also migrated from their country of origin, Afghanistan. Furthermore, the researcher’s sensitivity for how Afghans and Afghanistan were represented in the mainstream discourse in the U.S. was influenced by her own experience as a racialized ‘other’ in the U.S. However, as migrants from different countries, the circumstances of migration for the researcher and participants were highly disparate; the researcher migrated in order to pursue graduate education whereas the participants typically migrated to escape war(s). The combination of shared and unshared contexts compelled the researcher to straddle the role of insider (as immigrant from a neighboring country) and outsider (as someone who migrated amidst very different sociopolitical circumstances) in the production of this phenomenologically-informed study. This presentation is an account of the researcher’s efforts to use her sense of familiarity with the Afghan community at the individual level, as well as critical qualitative methods, to create a more nuanced picture of the Afghan immigrant community than existed in extant literature.
- Sara L. Buckingham: “Person-Environment and Topic-Method Fit: The Utility of Family Case Study Methods in Examining the Acculturation Gap—Distress Hypothesis”: Much research within community psychology focuses on ‘person-environment fit’; that is, an individual is likely to be more ‘successful’ if the environment matches and supports his/her personal beliefs, values, goals, and practices. Consequently, as I considered graduate training in psychological research, I sought a setting that shared my beliefs in a constructive epistemology, that valued emic perspectives and recognized the importance of culture and context, that held goals of understanding issues deeply through extended involvement, and that supported training in strengths-based applied research to inform action. I found this fit in a qualitative research lab. This presentation details my ongoing training in culturally competent, qualitatively rigorous, applied research that informs my current work on understanding acculturation and wellbeing of Latina/o immigrants. Specifically, I examine my role as a Spanish-speaking European American researcher who entered the homes and lives of Salvadorian American families in order to accurately capture and share their narratives. I discuss the ‘topic-method’ fit of my research, highlighting the importance of qualitative methods to better understand and expand upon the acculturation gap-distress hypothesis (i.e., differences of values, practices, and identifications within a family lead to conflict and negative outcomes) for which empirical quantitative evidence is mixed. I describe how quantitative methods provide an incomplete understanding of this phenomenon, and detail the use of a family case study approach that uses individual, dyad, and family interviews to better understand how mixed-generation immigrant families navigate acculturation gaps. I detail the unique ability of this approach for observing the phenomenon at the level it occurs – the family. Further, I explore the usefulness of both theoretical constructs and constructivist grounded theory methods in conducting, producing, and disseminating rigorous, strengths based, and culturally relevant research. Finally, I reflect upon my qualitative training and applied research experiences, underscoring lessons learned.
- Lindsay Emery: “A Foot in Two Worlds: Utilizing Qualitative Methods to Explore Identity Development and Sense of Community among Biracial Persons”: One advantage of utilizing qualitative methods in psychology is the power to examine individual experiences in-depth, resulting in a richer appreciation and understanding of perceptions and meaning-making. This is particularly important in working with and understanding marginalized populations and others whose voices also often go largely unheard. In order to do this work well, qualitative methods demand reflexivity – the fundamental understanding that the researcher is an active participant in the relationships, settings, and interpretations of the research process (Miller & Crabtree, 2004). As a graduate student in a qualitative research lab currently active in both team and independent research projects, I am immersed not only in the methods and theories of qualitative research, but also in those values that are deeply imbedded in this approach. In my thesis study I utilized qualitative interviews to explore sense of community among bi-racial individuals with a focus on strength, cultural competence, and multi-level experiences. I have found the process of reflexivity and acknowledging my standpoint and experience as someone who is also biracial as a critical component. This acknowledgment is important not only in understanding my approach to this project and the sample selected, but also influential in the interactions between my research participants and myself, as well as how findings are interpreted. Researchers in any project have varying levels of closeness in identity to the population we are studying and ways we may be insiders and/or outsiders to the community. This presentation will explore how qualitative methods were used to reflect upon my role as an ‘insider,’ my own experiences, and ultimately to understand how these shaped my questions, processes, and methods in documenting and analyzing the sometimes similar, but just as importantly often unique, words and experiences of my participants, and the importance of discriminating between the two.
Concurrent Session II (11:05 am – 12:35 pm)
Panel II-A: Critical Theories, Qualitative Inquiry, and the Study of Psychological Diversity
Corinne Datchi (Chair, Seton Hall University); Barbara Dennis (Indiana University), Peiwei Li (Springfield College), Beiza Sinan (Seton Hall University), Yu-ting Su (Bastyr University), & Jiwon Yoo (Seton Hall University)
The study of psychological diversity calls for methodologies that help us better understand the complex sociocultural processes through which individual identities are developed and constructed. The authors of this symposium will discuss how critical theories help us look at gender, race, ethnicity, and spirituality not as something that a person has, but as a dialectical process whereby individuals interact with self and others and make claims about who they are. The authors will draw on their own qualitative studies to illustrate how they investigate psychological diversity through critical perspectives. First, the authors will describe the theories that inform their study of psychological diversity: theories of performativity, theories of critical-emancipatory knowledge, and postcolonial critique of neoliberalism. They will explain how these theories guide their research at the methodological level, in particular as it relates to the analysis of dialogical and narrative data through which psychological diversity can be explored. They will use real examples derived from their own research to show how these theories contribute to advance our study and understanding of human differences as well as cross-cultural and cross-national relationships.
- Corinne Datchi, Beyza Sinan, & Jiwon Yoo: “Performativity in Qualitative Inquiry: Advancing the Study of Gender in Psychological Research”: These three authors will discuss how theories of performativity advance the qualitative study of gender in psychological research in ways that produce new insights into the social organization of face-to-face interactions as it relates to the production of gendered identities. The concept of performativity helps us locate gender in social relations and draws our attention to the characteristics of the social environments where individuals engage in gendered performances of self. We do not have a gender; we perform gender and thereby assume positions regarding who we are as gendered beings. These positions are fluid, situation-specific, and circumscribed by local sociocultural processes such as norms and rules. The authors will explain how theories of performativity call our attention to the relation between doing and being, performances of self, identity and context, in ways that enhance the study of gender in qualitative research. Excerpts from the interview of two transgender couples will be used to illustrate the main argument of the presentation. The authors will demonstrate how the concept of performativity guides the analysis of the dialogical data using critical qualitative methodology (Carspecken, 1996). In particular, the authors will discuss how these transgender couples experience and present their gendered identity in the context of their romantic relationship and in the broader context of their community. They will also examine the narratives that frame their experience as well as the rules that govern the production of these narratives, and how these narratives offer opportunities for creating new modes of being gendered.
- Peiwei Li: “Critical-Emancipatory Knowledge and the Study of Self and Spirituality in Psychology”: This author will first introduce Jürgen Habermas’s theory of Knowledge and Human Interest (1971), an early development of his critical theory. Habermas differentiates three knowledge-constitutive interests: the technical, the practical, and the emancipatory interest, which correspond to three types of knowledge, namely, the empirical-analytic knowledge; the historical-hermeneutic knowledge, and the critical-emancipatory knowledge. In particular, the author will focus on explicating the nature of the critical-emancipatory knowledge, and its intrinsic relation to the understanding of the self, spirituality, and self-development. The critical-emancipatory knowledge centers on self-reflection, transformation, social justice, and emancipation from oppression, and yet, this aspect of knowledge has stayed largely under-recognized in social inquiry including the field of psychology. Insights from this epistemological reflection may offer innovative methodological implications for qualitative inquiry in psychology. Guided by this meta-level reflection on critical theory, the author applied critical qualitative methodology (Carspecken, 1996) to explore the self and spiritual development of four participants who had engaged in long-term spiritual practices. The study’s analytic focus was placed on identifying dialectical movements in participants’ self and spiritual development in relation to their emancipatory interest, and the interconnectedness of their knowing, doing, being, and becoming toward freedom. The dialogues between the philosophical and empirical investigations converge on a key argument that self and identity are intersubjectively structured and maintained. Self-development involves dialectical movements and is oriented toward emancipation and freedom to become and be certain about its true nature. In addition, the author will discuss how to methodologically understand the notion of validity in relation to emancipatory knowledge, which offers a new perspective that may help to expand and deepen our understanding of validity in qualitative inquiry in psychology.
- Yu-ting Su: “Using Critical Qualitative Methodology to Study Racial Identities and Discourses in Counseling”: It has been more than ten years since the publication of the “Guidelines for Multicultural Education, Training, Research Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists” (American Psychological Association, 2003). However, our knowledge about what constitutes culturally sensitive practices in cross-racial counseling has not made much progress. One of the major challenges in studying race in counseling relationships is to identify White therapists’ implicit expression of racial biases. Social psychological research has shown that modern expressions of Whites’ racial attitudes are conflicting, tacit, and highly contextualized (Katz & Hass, 2000; Gaertner & Dovidio, 2000; Durrheim & Dixon). Additionally, when racial issues are discussed, White therapists’ expression of racial attitudes influences non-White clients’ responses which in turn shape the therapists’ intentions (Carter, 1990, Carter & Helms, 1992, Thompson & Jenal, 1994). In other words, the expression of racial attitudes is an interactive process that makes it difficult for researchers to parse out and explore individual racial biases. This author will discuss how she used critical qualitative methodology (Carspecken, 1996) to study the reproduction of racial inequality in a cross-racial counseling dyad composed of a White therapist and a Korean international student. Critical epistemology enhances the study of racial inequality in counseling interactions because it calls attention to how power distorts human communication. In this presentation, the author will show how she used specific analytic strategies drawn from critical qualitative methodology (e.g., interactive sequence analysis, role analysis) to reveal the dominant ideologies that the therapist and the client called upon; she will also describe how the client and the therapist negotiated their roles and identities in relation to these ideologies. Last, she will explain how these identities constrained the therapist’s and the client’s responses to each other and prevented them from directly confronting issues of cultural/racial differences and discrimination.
- Barbara Dennis: “Critical Qualitative Inquiry in International Contexts: The Uganda Project”: Working with colleagues in Uganda has provided a series of research opportunities primarily oriented toward peace. This author draws on critical, post-colonial theory to both engage with the research process as an external inquiry facilitator and to make sense of the research efforts going on with my colleagues. Within the fields of psychology, more attention could be paid to the manner in which power relates to the production of research. In this paper, I speak specifically to the role of outsider in a critical research study. The paper reports on the conduct of research in a post-colonial moment that has colonial footprints all over it. As a white woman from an advantaged country, there are power dynamics that must be addressed in the enactment of equity and democracy through our international work. This particular paper explores new ways to analyze the post-colonial relationships amongst research team members and participants. The researcher integrates Carspecken’s (1996) appropriation of Habermas’s critical theory with feminist post-colonialism insights to discuss research relationships, rather than research outcomes. The analysis provides an exemplar for the principle of reflexivity in qualitative research, which is a cornerstone for critical inquiry. Reflective research practice helps us see that we are engaged in position-taking rather than merely “occupy” diverse positions, and that we enact diverse perspectives rather than merely “hold” those perspectives. Such a critical reflection on research relationality can help investigators better understand the way post-colonial relations impact international inquiry.
Panel II-B: Advancing Qualitative Research with Transformative Activist Agendas: Collaborative Research Projects in Community College and Beyond
Anna Stetsenko (Co-Chair, CUNY) & Eduardo Vianna (Co-Chair, CUNY); Naja Hougaard (CUNY), Francisco Medina, (CUNY), Keiko Matsuura (CUNY), Dusana Podlucka (CUNY), & Mike Rifino (CUNY)
This symposium presents several research projects in which qualitative methodologies are utilized in ways that expand them from the position termed transformative activist stance. This work builds upon Vygotsky’s project interpreted through a politically non-neutral lens, Freirean critical pedagogy, Bakhtin’s dialogical approach, and elements of participatory design in a model for educational research that is centrally predicated on a transformative agenda pursuing the goals of social justice and solidarity. The key position underpinning these projects is that because research is inevitably contributing to social projects with varying politically and ideologically non-neutral agendas, it has an activist character — as in fact do any acts of human knowing, being, and doing. These agendas centrally involve taking an activist stance grounded in a vision of how researchers and participants believe present practices can be changed and what kind of future in their communities ought to be created. From this perspective, research methodology needs to centrally include deliberations and self-reflection on their research contributing to the larger projects of social transformation in education and beyond. How qualitative methodologies can integrate considerations of activism, transformation and agency at the intersection of both social and individual levels, and ensuing challenges and opportunities, are the central topics explored and illustrated by the presenters. The symposium will feature 5 presentations by both researchers and student-participants, from across CUNY campuses, including on a co-participatory project with an activist agenda in the format of a peer supported learning community. Presentations will also reflect on traditions of critical scholarship in education, philosophy and social science that connect theorizing with politically engaged activism and advocacy. Also highlighted is the dynamics of participation, transformation and caring in qualitative research focused on learning, agency and autism.
- Anna Stetsenko: “Research with Transformative Agendas: Advances and Challenges for Developing Qualitative Methodologies”: This presentation interrogates qualitative methodologies from the position termed transformative activist stance that is predicated on both researchers and participants taking non-neutral, future-oriented positioning as the necessary grounding for inquiries, knowledge building and social change, especially in education. A transformative activist stance is a theoretically grounded model for educational research based on a radically revised theory of human development and learning away from connotations of adaptation and passivity. In place of adaptation, the TAS predicates ontology and epistemology on the notion of moving beyond the status quo and enacting the future through agentive contributions to collaborative practices carried out across the dimensions of the past, the present, and the future at the intersection of individual and collective agency. In capitalizing on social transformation and activist agency, the TAS revives the abiding urgency of the struggle for a better future and, moreover, theorizes such a struggle as ontologically and epistemologically central to all forms of human being, doing, and knowing. This approach follows with the traditions of critical scholarship in education, philosophy and social science that connect theorizing with politically engaged activism. Its purpose is to advance a transformative agenda that contributes to the creation of equitable futures for students, especially those from disadvantaged populations. The argument is that such non-neutral, activist agenda not only does not make research “subjective” (and therefore, somehow unreliable) in the traditional connotation of this term but, on the contrary, that it represents a necessary, unavoidable, and facilitative condition for conducting research that is transparent, accountable, and therefore, “objective” in the sense of strong objectivity as defined in critical and feminist scholarship. The opposition itself between “subjectivity” and “objectivity” is rendered irrelevant in research that integrates human active striving predicated on imagination and desire to move beyond the “givenness” of the world in its status quo.
- Eduardo Vianna & Naja Hougaard: “Creating Peer-Based Communities of Change in a Community College: Extending the Vygotskian Project through Qualitative Research with a Transformative Activist Agenda”: This paper will discuss an alternative model of transformative education reform underpinned by the central role of creating communities of learning that engage students as social actors in the dialectic process of personal and collective transformation. Building from the transformative activist stance approach (Stetsenko, 2008; Vianna & Stetsenko, 2014; Vianna, Hougaard & Stetsenko, 2014) according to which agentive contribution to transformative collaborative practices is the grounding for human development and learning, this model fosters and builds on the strengths of students themselves as they engage in and transform educational practices. Driven by the critical need to improve educational practices and opportunities for underprivileged youth many of whom struggle to graduate from public high schools and community colleges, the authors describe the ongoing implementation of a multi-level, boundary-crossing learning community of change in which students engage as fully agentive actors of education rather than its passive recipients. By bringing together curricular and co-curricular learning activities and services in the community college and neighborhood high-schools in coordination with a graduate human development/urban education program, this work builds upon yet also moves beyond the core tenets of the influential educational reforms. Importantly, this research project posits the creation of a genuine learning community as a key component of the research process. Thus, this model is predicated on implementing the very research site as a learning community in which students gain and apply the tools of their own active positioning (i.e., develop agentive, or “activist,” stance and identity) so that they can take charge of their education through contributing to collective and collaborative pursuits of social change within their learning community and beyond. Grounded in post-objectivist epistemology, this approach highlights the importance of collaboratively creating the research site as a community of change as integral to its constitution as an object of investigation.
- Francisco Medina & Keiko Matsuura: “Transforming Qualitative Methodologies through Activism and Reflective Epistemology”: The panelists discuss how the methodology of the Peer Activist Learning Community (PALC) implemented in a research project at an urban community college was transformed as students and researchers actively engaged in discussing and learning about research methodologies in order to define PALC’s dialogical and collaborative tenets as a research site. Grounded on a political and moral commitment to overcome contradictions in traditional research, including the notion of methodology as a given set of rules, which perpetuate the conformity to the power relation of researcher and researched, the project aimed to promote activist transformation and development of agency through collective effort and contribution. We will focus on how our collaborative efforts to overcome traditional contradictions within the confines of the status quo of academia were transformed by questions raised by students about the ‘objectivity’ of the research and through our collective commitment to overcome researcher-researched power dynamics. In addition, we discuss how engaging in activism, particularly social movements, inspired us to challenge epistemic coloniality in research methods. Thus, as students developed activist stances, they began to critically situate their research experiences and struggles in the context of intellectual colonialism and epistemological injustice (e.g., under or ill- representation, illegitimation, and absence of certain knowledge, doubting the legitimacy of our own insights, and ownership of the research) and address and seek to overcome the power dynamics and contradictions present in the methodology of the project. The ultimate aim is to illustrate the transformation of our methodologies, including how we collaboratively sought creative ways to recreate and reclaim research practice and space for transformation both at individual and social level, with meaningful contributions of participants valued as a legitimate part of the transformation of methodologies and inquiries. A number of challenges that arise in research with a transformative agenda are addressed.
- Dusana Podlucka: “Activist Collaborative Inquiry on Learning, Agency and Autism: Dynamics of Participation and Caring”: This presentation discusses qualitative research as an activist collaborative method in a study of educational context with a young woman diagnosed with autism. The purpose of the study was to interrogate and expand current models of autism by examining the complex interplay of personal and social processes as the participant engaged in educational practices in the community college where she was a student. Drawing on transformative activist stance, the study focused on the dynamic relationships between learning, self and autism at the nexus of shifting positions negotiated by the student, professors, administrators, and her guardian in the context of college and beyond. This project went beyond documenting the student’s development and instead, entailed a co-participatory relationship between the researcher, the student and her guardian, which evolved into a close collaboration and deepening commitment to the student’s development. The centerpiece of this project was identifying and co-constructing cultural tools to empower the student and facilitate the growth of her agency in college and beyond. Importantly, this endeavor gradually transformed the central research participants into collaborators and contributors and, dialectically, with the transformation of their roles, led to a growing impact on their lives. I discuss the challenges and joys involved in carrying out research from this engaged, caring and activist position. In particular, I suggest a way to consider how knowledge produced within research is a form of social practice aimed at and guided by social justice. Important aspect of this inquiry was that the mutual relationships among key participants developed not only as a result of commitment to conducting “research” per se, in a traditional and traditionally narrow, sense. Rather, the engagement of the participants grew out of a caring commitment to one another and looking onward to the future in our lives and our communities, from our developing activist stances.
- Mike Rifino: “Demystifying student passivity in the Peer Activist Learning Community Research”: This presentation will explore how faculty and students in the Peer Activist Learning Community (PALC; see Vianna, Hougaard, & Stetsenko, 2014; Rifino, Matsuura, & Medina, 2014) collaboratively investigated and redefined student agency/passivity as a dialectical process in light of creating a critical activist learning community. Drawing from transformative activist stance, which posits individuals collaboratively contributing to and changing their community practices as the core of human development, this paper will discuss how PALC challenged students’ passivity and resistance in relation to leaning and social practices (e.g., their stances toward making socially meaningful contributions; Stetsenko, 2008). Although not all members in PALC have claimed a passive positioning, this presentation will focus on cases where this does take place. As a collaborative object of investigation in PALC, this positioning was critically examined through collective, reflective discussion in tandem with engaging in critical-theoretical leaning as a tool for development. Indeed, part of the methodology building in PALC aimed at creating a space for collective, reflective discussion whereby the group encouraged and even challenged each other to consider ways in which they actively contributed to those practices that they themselves felt oppressed and constrained by (Vianna & Stetsenko, 2014). In this context, not only resistance but also, paradoxically, passivity were taken as expressions of participants’ agentic stance and, hence, opening possibilities for some degree of change and as a basis for transformation. The upshot of this shared activity served as a platform to realize participants’ changing activist stances. Drawing from TAS-based principles, this presentation will address how PALC interrogated these preconceived passive stances as always-active contributions directly shaping this TAS-based research project.
Panel II-C: Qualitative Psychopharmacology: Exploring the Subjective Effects of Hallucinogens and their Healing Potentials
Albert Garcia-Romeu (Chair, Johns Hopkins University); Peter H. Addy (Yale University), Gabrielle Agin-Liebes (New York University), Alexander B. Belser (New York University), Roland R. Griffiths (Johns Hopkins University), Samuel P Himelstein (Sofia University), Matthew W. Johnson (Johns Hopkins University), Jacob Kaminker (John F. Kennedy University), Matthew Metzger (No Affiliation), Tehseen Noorani (Johns Hopkins University), Stephen Ross (New York University), T. Cody Swift (RiverStyx Foundation), Jenny Wade (Sofia University)
A new wave of research examining the subjective effects and potential clinical applications of hallucinogenic substances has recently emerged. Drugs such as psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, Ayahuasca, and Salvia divinorum offer compelling glimpses into the inner workings of the mind, with particular relevance to understanding the subjective dimensions of consciousness, motivation, emotion, and psychopathology. In addition to traditional biomedical and behavioral pharmacology research methods, qualitative approaches provide an important means of assessing the acute subjective impacts of these drugs, and their persisting psychological effects. This symposium will present work from four separate studies employing qualitative methods in exploring the effects of hallucinogen-induced experiences and related altered states of consciousness. Dr. Peter Addy will discuss his work with the atypical Kappa-opioid receptor agonist hallucinogen Salvia divinorum, and its ability to create unusual perceptual and somatic experiences (e.g., synesthesia). Alex Belser will describe his research with individuals receiving psilocybin for anxiety near the end-of-life, and the nature of the experiences described by those participants in coming to terms with their existential distress. Dr. Noorani will discuss his interview study examining the role of psilocybin as an aid to smoking cessation treatment, including participants’ accounts of their experience in this novel treatment, and how it may help in overcoming tobacco dependence. Finally, Dr. Garcia-Romeu will discuss his research on the phenomenology of self-transcendent experiences (both drug induced and spontaneously occurring), and their potential for producing ongoing benefits in physical and psychological wellbeing. In conclusion, presenters will consider the evolving role of qualitative research methods within such traditionally quantitative biomedical research paradigms, and the value of qualitative research in developing an enhanced appreciation for individuals’ lived experience in current psychological discourse.
- Peter H. Addy, Matthew Metzger, & Jenny Wade: “The Subjective Experience of Acute, Experimentally-Induced Salvia Divinorum Inebriation”: Salvia divinorum (SD), a mint native to Mexico, has been used in rituals for hundreds of years. The leaves contain salvinorin A (SA), a potent and selective kappa opioid receptor (KOR) agonist. Ingestion or inhalation of SA leads to profound alterations in perception and higher order cognitive processes. The effects of SA and other KOR agonists on human experience have not been well-studied using traditional psychopharmacological research methods. Thus, the qualitative examination of the acute subjective effects of SA in healthy human subjects provides an excellent method for examining the role of the KOR system in consciousness, reward, and psychopathology. We recruited 30 healthy adults with prior exposure to hallucinogens to self-administer SA under controlled laboratory conditions. Participants inhaled either a psychoactive dose of 1017 mcg SA or a non-psychoactive dose of 100 mcg of SA in a double-blind, counter-balanced, randomized procedure during two test days occurring two weeks apart. Sessions were audio recorded, and transcripts of acute and post-acute psychoactive effects, as well as written comments from the participant-completed Hallucinogen Rating Scale were subjected to thematic analysis. Three researchers independently identified and coded salient data and grouped codes into initial themes. Collaboratively, codes and themes were then recursively examined, labeled, and operationalized, resulting in three major themes and ten subthemes. Participants described (1) the immediate qualities of SA inebriation, including rapid onset of intense and unique psychoactive effects; (2) perceptual alterations including auditory, visual, and interoceptive phenomena, and visual-interoceptive synesthesia; and (3) affective shifts and dissociative states. These results agree with and extend previous survey and laboratory research. Rapid onset of intense effects, perceived uniqueness of inebriation, and the nature of perceptual, affective, and dissociative SA effects have been previously described, though not in detail, and warrant further neuropharmacological and qualitative study.
- Alexander B. Belser, Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, T. Cody Swift, & Stephen Ross: “Psilocybin-Administration as a Treatment for Anxiety in Cancer Patients: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis”: This interview study explored the experiences of patients with cancer and clinical anxiety who were administered psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), a serotonergic psychoactive agent, for existential distress. All participants were diagnosed with advanced, recurrent, or life threatening and were administered psilocybin within a supportive psychotherapeutic treatment milieu. Psilocybin is found in specific types of mushrooms and has been used for centuries for religious and spiritual purposes to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness and mystical-type experiences. Explorations of the subjective effects of psilocybin in this context using a qualitative approach have yet to appear in the peer-reviewed literature. The study utilized a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled crossover design with psilocybin administration occurring at 7 weeks. The dose of psilocybin was 0.3mg/kg. Nine sessions of psychotherapy were conducted with two dedicated therapists, constituting a therapeutic dyad. Semi-structured interviews, lasting two hours each, were conducted with participants (n=13). Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach. Epistemological challenges in conducting this type of inquiry into the psilocybin-induced subjective effects will be articulated. Emerging themes concerning the participants’ perceptual changes, powerful affective experiences, rekindled memories, waking vision states, and spiritual/mystical states of consciousness will be described. Primary relational configurations and participant experiences concerning cancer anxiety and existential distress are contextually described.
- Tehseen Noorani, Albert Garcia-Romeu, Roland R. Griffiths, & Matthew W. Johnson: “Identifying Perceived Mechanisms of Change in the Use of Psilocybin to Occasion Smoking Cessation: Possibilities and Challenges”: An open-label pilot study administering psilocybin within a structured 15-week smoking cessation treatment protocol was recently reported (Johnson et al., 2014). Results showed that the smoking cessation rate was significantly higher than commonly reported using alternative therapies – 12 of 15 participants showing a seven-day point prevalence abstinence at six months post-quit-date. In the current study, retrospective interviews were conducted with participants (n=12), to identify perceived mechanisms of change. Interviews were coded in NVivo and analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological approach. I describe some of the challenges faced when developing the interview schedule that may be particular to researching psychedelic-induced states. I then describe the key findings of the analysis. Among them, participants deeply valued the carefully constructed space of the ‘session room’, and identified the interaction between preparatory cognitive behavioral therapy (weeks 0-5) and the subsequent psilocybin sessions (weeks 5, 7 and optionally 13) as central to the effects the study had on their lives. This reinforces the inseparability of drug, set and setting in understanding drug actions (cf. Zinberg, 1984). Participants also offered highly nuanced accounts of mechanisms of change, ranging from the spiritual to the psychological to the physiological to the behavioral – in relation to smoking cessation, but also extending to many other positive effects. Their experiential knowledge suggests that a methodological turn to participatory research might be of great value in exploring the effects of drug-induced experiences, both in terms of improving research protocols and enriching research findings. I end by discussing the tension between inviting participants to be more actively engaged in co-constructing the research, and the feeling of safety that participants reported as emerging from the sense that the research protocols were authorized by the certitudes of ‘science.’
- Albert Garcia-Romeu, Samuel P Himelstein, & Jacob Kaminker: “Mapping the Phenomenology and Persisting Effects of Self-Transcendence: Towards a Preliminary Grounded Theory of Transcendent Experience”: Recent research has suggested that administration of serotonergic hallucinogens (i.e., psychedelics) can evoke highly salient and personally meaningful self-transcendent experiences (STE), with spiritual or mystical-type qualities, and persisting beneficial effects. Despite extensive research in this area, the process, outcomes, and nature of STE remain elusive. This study focused on the self-reported narratives of STE in 15 healthy adults. Accounts were collected in face-to-face interviews, transcribed, and thematically analyzed using grounded theory methodology. Qualitative results were recursively examined to construct a preliminary mid-range theory of STE in healthy adults. Three major theme areas emerged from interview data. These were (a) context, (b) phenomenology, and (c) aftermath of STE. Each of these major themes was further divided into distinct sub-themes, including setting, perceptual alterations, and long-term effects. In some reports of STE, participants described specific catalysts, such as psychedelic drugs, or intentional meditative practice. However, in other cases no obvious catalyst could be pinpointed by the participants or researchers (i.e., spontaneously occurring STE). Of the overt catalysts of STE, the most common were psychedelic substances (e.g., Ayahuasca, LSD, MDMA; n = 4), instruction from a spiritual teacher (n = 3), dance (n = 3), meditation (n = 2), psychotherapy (n = 2), and prayer (n = 2). These findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence suggesting that psychedelics, when administered to carefully screened and well-prepared individuals in controlled settings, can provide a relatively safe and reliable method of inducing profound, transcendent altered states of consciousness with considerable therapeutic potential. The resulting interpretation of STE is discussed in light of current literature and directions for future qualitative and mixed methods research.
Panel II-D: Teaching Qualitative Inquiry in Undergraduate Psychology Programs: Contexts, Practices, and Questions
Linda M. McMullen (Chair, University of Saskatchewan); Cynthia Neal Kimball (Wheaton College), Patrick Sweeney (CUNY), & Cynthia Winston-Proctor (Howard University)
Although qualitative inquiry is gaining recognition and legitimacy in the discipline of psychology, the teaching of such approaches to research (and the scholarship of such teaching) remains under-developed, particularly with respect to undergraduate programs in Canadian and American universities. In this symposium, we provide examples of teaching qualitative inquiry at the undergraduate level in three different contexts: (1) as integrated into an existing course in a psychology curriculum; (2) as a stand-alone course; and (3) as a lab-based experience outside of a formalized course. To situate our presentations, Cynthia Winston-Proctor begins the symposium with a brief introduction to the APA’s recently launched Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major: Version 2.0 and to how qualitative inquiry is positioned and embedded in these guidelines. She then focuses on how she integrates narrative psychology into her undergraduate course in personality theory. Linda McMullen presents the broad contours of her generalist, stand-alone third-year undergraduate course in qualitative inquiry, and Cynthia Neal Kimball shows how she employs a lab-based immersion process to introduce undergraduate students to qualitative research. Each presenter poses conceptual and logistical questions that have arisen from her teaching experiences as a way of informing and shaping the scholarship of teaching qualitative inquiry in the discipline of psychology. Patrick Sweeney, a graduate student and instructor of qualitative inquiry, serves as our discussant. He provides reactions to our presentations and also outlines what he wished he had learned about qualitative inquiry as an undergraduate. The goal of our symposium is to start a set of conversations through SQIP that can lead to the compilation and development of resources for teaching qualitative inquiry at the undergraduate level and to the advancement of scholarship in this area.
- Cynthia Winston-Proctor: “Up Close and Personal Revisited: The Challenges and Opportunities of Teaching and Learning Narrative Personality Psychology Inquiry”: “Neither the doing nor the teaching of narrative research is linear. It is inherently an inductive process that involves shaping the instrument of the research as a medium for the discovery and interpretation of meanings” (Josselson, Lieblich, McAdams, 2003, p.4). Within the field of psychology, faculty wrestle with how to best prepare undergraduate students for graduate education and careers in which they can pursue answers to complex questions about human experience. In the spirit of the volume Up Close and Personal, edited by Ruthellen Josselson, Amia Lieblich, and Dan McAdams (2003), this presentation reflects on my work with teaching narrative personality psychology and provides examples of professional triumphs. The first explicit narrative theory of personality emerged with the introduction of Tomkins’s (1979) script theory, emphasizing affect-laden scenes and rule-generating scripts constructed from life experiences. McAdams (1985) extended Tomkins’s ideas with the introduction of the Life Story Model, a commonly applied orientation to narrative personality study of lives. The Life Story Model contends that identity itself is a life story and that people begin, in late adolescence and young adulthood, to construe their lives as evolving stories that integrate the reconstructed past and the imagined future to provide life with some semblance of unity and purpose. Other similar conceptual emphases on narrative identity are evident in the study of self-defining memories (Singer, 1995), autobiographical memory narratives (Bluck & Gluck, 2004), and memorable events (Pillemer, 1998). To frame my presentation, the following questions will be explored: (1) What is the entry point for students’ acquaintance with narrative personality psychology inquiry?; (2) What are the opportunities and challenges that narrative personality psychology inquiry presents for the new Howard University Undergraduate Psychology Curriculum that adopts many of the student learning outcomes in the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Major (2007; 2013).
- Linda M. McMullen: “Teaching Qualitative Inquiry as a Stand-Alone Course in an Undergraduate Psychology Program”: While stand-alone courses in experimental and quasi-experimental research design and in statistics have been a mainstay in undergraduate psychology curricula for decades, similar courses in qualitative inquiry are relatively rare. In the department of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, I have taught a stand-alone course in qualitative inquiry at the undergraduate level for over a decade. Because students arrive at this course with very little, if any, knowledge of these approaches to research, but with previous exposure to statistics and to experimental/quasi-experimental design, I have designed a broad course that includes an introductory grounding in ontologies and epistemologies, methodologies (e.g., phenomenological psychological analysis, grounded theory, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, action research), methods of data generation (e.g., interviews, online sources, texts, observation), and criteria for quality control. The course culminates in students’ preparation of a research proposal. While this generalist course provides students with a solid introduction to qualitative inquiry, I am still left with many conceptual and logistical questions. For example, ‘How does one avoid methodolatry in a stand-alone course?;’ How can one reconcile the message that students need to choose a methodology to fit their research question with the notion that researchers typically gravitate to using a methodology that fits their values and analytic skills?;’ ‘Is qualitative inquiry “othered” when one references the criteria, standards, and practices of quantitative research as a way of teaching key concepts such as sampling and generalization?’ I pose questions of this sort in my presentation and consider possible answers in an effort to deepen the conversation about what we do (and why we do what we do) in our teaching of qualitative inquiry.
- Cynthia Neal Kimball: “Teaching Qualitative Research without the Benefit of a Stand-Alone Course”: My task in the lab is to begin at ground zero with acquainting students to the conceptual nature of qualitative research. To quote one of my students, “To be honest, before this training, I did not really know that there was a qualitative side to psych research, but this has definitely cleared that up for me.” It has taken me a few years to grow this qualitative training (much like any good qualitative research!). The purpose of my presentation will be to describe an immersion process of qualitative training. The immersion process differs depending on the research project. Students sign up for research credit (Collaborative Research teams) and are required to work approximately 5 hours a week in the lab (including meetings, readings, and transcription, coding, etc.). Undergraduates begin with a research identity essay (see Luttrell, 2010) followed by learning to memo through praxis, journaling their questions and insights from transcriptions to coding and beyond. The team meets weekly to discuss their memos which provides the opportunity to introduce the concepts of reflexivity, threats to interpretations/explanations, and transparency. Readings relevant to the research design (grounded theory, narrative, etc.) are part of these weekly discussions as well as the theoretical foundation for the study. Nvivo10 is introduced for organizing qualitative data and subsequent analysis. It is after the students have learned to listen to the data as well as each other (along with their own internal process) and after they’ve acquired rudimentary skills utilizing qualitative software, that I initiate discussion about epistemology, theory and alternative methodologies. Hence, students learn the key elements of qualitative research (see Leavy, 2014) organically. There are many disadvantages in this immersion process (e.g., potential methodolatry); however, the greatest advantage is that students, through first-hand experience, are able to cogently communicate the value of qualitative research.
- Patrick Sweeney: Discussant
Lunch on Your Own (12:35 pm – 2:10 pm)
Concurrent Session III (2:10 pm – 3:40 pm)
Panel III-A: Recommendations for Designing and Reviewing Qualitative Research: Promoting Methodological Integrity
Heidi M. Levitt (Chair, University of Massachusetts Boston); Ruthellen Josselson (Fielding Graduate University), Sue L. Motulsky (Lesley University), Joseph G. Ponterotto (Fordham University), & Frederick J. Wertz (Fordham University)
The current symposium presents the recommendations from an initial paper from the Task Force on the Publication of Qualitative Research formed by the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology. The Task Force’s recommendations advocate a model of design and review that appreciates complexity in qualitative research goals and characteristics in place of methodological rigidity. These recommendations are intended to help authors address challenges they face both when tailoring methods to their own goals and study characteristics and when responding to reviews of their work. In addition, the recommendations are intended for use by journal editors and reviewers to support their evaluations of qualitative methods in psychology. The first presentation describes the advances that have been made in the reception and publication of psychological qualitative research. It situates qualitative inquiry within our field and frames the concerns that led to these recommendations. The second presentation argues that the concept of methodological integrity is key in evaluating the trustworthiness of research design. It describes two core processes in the consideration of integrity – seeking fidelity to one’s subject matter and seeking meaning in one’s knowledge contribution – and identifies four central considerations for each, with principles to guide their implementation. The third presentation provides examples of ways these recommendations may be applied in the process of designing studies with reference to different principles and in responding to reviewers. It considers how reviewers can use these recommendations to enhance their sensitivity to methodological integrity. Two discussants bring their experience as reviewers and editors and share their thoughts on how this initiative can be used by journals and editors to mediate between good and poor reviews. The symposium considers how educators might use this initiative in teaching students to consider qualitative design and authors might use it in their research development and in the revision process.
- Joseph G. Ponterotto: “Qualitative Research in Psychology: In the Midst of a Paradigm Shift”: During the last two decades, the profession of psychology appears to have entered a mode of methodological reflection, where an increasing openness to diverse research paradigms and empirical approaches has manifested. Recent trend analyses of research and training in qualitative research reveals an exponential growth of qualitative studies published in many traditional psychology journals; the emergence of new qualitative research journals; an increase in qualitative research books and chapters; a call for increased qualitative and mixed methods designs in grant applications; growth in qualitative research courses in graduate-level curriculum; and a marked increase in qualitative doctoral dissertations. For psychologists advocating for a multi-paradigmatic research base and for increased qualitative and mixed methods research approaches, the methodological paradigm shift apparently underway is promising and exciting. However, the (fairly) sudden introduction of new research paradigms (e.g., constructivism and critical theory) and a host of inquiry approaches to a psychology profession that has, since mid-20th century, been steeped in one paradigm (postpositivism) and one inquiry method (quantitative and experimental procedures), raises a unique set of challenges. As grass roots and in-the-field researchers, particularly graduate students, new academics and professionals, community–based clinicians and researchers, embrace qualitative approaches for their (often) proximity to the “erlebnis” (lived experiences) of the constituents they are studying, and conduct and submit their studies to journals and dissertation committees, the gatekeepers of our corpus of literature may be overwhelmed with the task of both understanding diverse research paradigms and inquiry methods and judging the quality and appropriateness of the studies for their particular journal or institution. The risks are two-fold: that high quality qualitative research is rejected because of reviewers’ lack of familiarity with alternate paradigms and methods, or conversely, that poor quality qualitative research is accepted for the same reason.
- Heidi M. Levitt: “Integrity-Based Research Design and Evaluation”: This presentation presents the concept of methodological integrity and describes it as a basis for the evaluation of trustworthiness in qualitative research. Instead of privileging formalistic aspects of a method when evaluating research (e.g., sets of procedures associated with qualitative methods), this approach argues that procedures should be viewed as in the service of methodological integrity. Designing research and conducting reviews with this concept in mind can support the appropriate adaptation of methods to different research goals and study characteristics. This presentation outlines two core research processes that can be used to appraise integrity. These are: (1) seeking fidelity to the subject matter, which is the process by which qualitative researchers collect or select data that generate a clear picture of the phenomenon under study; and (2) developing a meaningful knowledge contribution, which is the process by which researchers analyze their data to discover or construct insightful understandings or theories. Central considerations that can guide the evaluation of fidelity include questions related to whether the data are adequate, can lead to insights, are contextualized, and how research perspectives are managed. Central considerations that can guide the evaluation of meaning contribution include the groundedness of the interpretations, the coherence between findings, the utility of the findings in relation to goals, and clarity on how research perspectives influence the analysis. Questions that guide the evaluation of these core processes are put forward as well as implementation principles and a flowchart to help authors and reviewers in the process of research design and review. This approach is advocated as a way to organize and conceptualize central features in the design and review process, in the face of the multitude of specific methods and approaches to qualitative research. It is an approach that values creative and responsive adaptation of procedures to meet researchers’ goals.
- Sue L. Motulsky: “Challenges of and Responses to Qualitative Research Reviewers, Editors, and Authors”: Authors, reviewers, and editors all face challenges related to the qualitative research review process. Building on the two core processes of seeking fidelity and seeking meaning for methodological integrity, this presentation addresses specific challenges related to these tasks and suggests responses for managing the process for both authors and editors/reviewers. Author challenges may include inconsistent expectations from editors and reviewers, particularly about the level of detail demanded on method and data analysis sections, restrictive page limits that do not allow the space needed to clearly describe qualitative work, and the use of fixed procedural evaluation that may not recognize differences among qualitative methods. Reviewers and editorial boards may face various challenges such as diverse educational backgrounds and training in qualitative research or they may lack training in specific qualitative methods. This variability can make it difficult to find reviewers who have expertise across qualitative research traditions and methods. Reviewers may not be familiar with the different goals for qualitative research across traditions or may assume that evaluation or knowledge of one method, such as grounded theory, or one approach to a method, is applicable to other methods. Thus, relying on fixed procedures for one qualitative method may not be effective across methods. Reviewers also may mistakenly or unknowingly apply quantitative modes of evaluation. All of these issues can lead to conflicts among reviewers that editors need to mediate. Recommendations to editorial boards and reviewers to resolve these challenges are discussed, along with illustrative examples. They are intended to guide editors/reviewers in their evaluations and suggestions to authors of qualitative studies. The recommendations also are intended to assist authors in tailoring qualitative methods to their research goals and to responding to reviews of their work.
- Frederick J. Wertz: Discussant
- Ruthellen Josselson: Discussant
Panel III-B: From the Margins to the Center: Qualitative Inquiry with Marginalized Groups
Louise Bordeaux Silverstein (Chair, Yeshiva University); Susan Goldberg (Duquesne University), Brendon Gough (Leeds Beckett University), Mary Killeen (Syracuse University), & Carmen Lalonde (Yeshiva University)
This symposium presents five diverse qualitative studies. The first four presentations explore the subjective experiences of gender minorities and differently-abled individuals. These presentations highlight the ways in which qualitative inquiry is especially suited to giving voice to groups that have traditionally been marginalized within psychology. The presentations use multiple methodologies, from experiential to constructionist, and highlight different levels of analysis, including individual, interpersonal and social-cultural. The presentations also emphasize how studying people who have been socially marginalized can generate insights about the experiences of members of dominant groups as well. Because sensitive and successful inquiry with members of vulnerable minorities requires a significant amount of self-examination and reflection by researchers, the final presentation focuses on how to teach reflexivity for qualitative research, using the example of teaching mostly White, European American undergraduates involved in research with inner city African Americans. This particular reflexive slant encompasses both personal and political reflections. Thus, the symposium explores the experiences of both researchers and participants in qualitative inquiry.
- Carmen Lalonde: “In Their Own Words: Trans People Speak Out”: This presentation summarizes data from a qualitative study that explored the subjective experiences of 20 transgender individuals over the age of 18 who self-identified as either transgender or gender non-conforming. The data describe the participants’ experiences of finding their authentic gender identities within a gender binary world. Participants described support and rejection, as well as many unique challenges associated with being transgender, such struggling with decisions about surgery; revising the sex on their passport. The participants reported dysphoria, as well as resilience as they claimed their authentic gender identity. The researcher used a systematic, grounded theory procedure to code and analyze interviews, incorporating multiple coders at the initial phase of data analysis. Five major theoretical constructs emerged; 1) a developmental pathway of transgender development; 2) the importance of doing their own independent research as they struggled to understand their sense of being trans; 3) experiences of both social support and social rejection, including transphobia as they began to transition; 4) the continual challenge of being trans; and 5) experiences of resilience and advocacy. These findings have the potential to transform our understanding of gender from an attribute that is fixed and binary, to one that is fluid and diverse. Moreover, femininity and masculinity can no longer be associated with a specific body types. These changes create possibilities for cisgender as well as transgender individuals.
- Brendan Gough: “From the Margins to[wards] the Centre: Researching Masculinities Online”: The burgeoning qualitative research literature on men and masculinities has provided fascinating insights into contemporary gender identities and relations. This work, however, has been mainly limited to qualitative interviews and focus groups i.e. men’s accounts have been collected in the presence and under the influence of the researcher[s]. For young men in particular, much social interaction and identity work occurs online, so it makes sense for qualitative researchers to ‘go where the action is’. Online discussion forums can be considered to be ‘naturalistic’ datasets, valuable snapshots of peer-to-peer practices and concerns. In this talk I focus on how self-identified ‘metrosexual’ men construct their identities, resist critique and support each other online. For example, I report findings from a study of men who wear make-up – a minority but growing group – where masculinity is re-imagined as appearance-oriented, and where appearance is explicitly linked to successful careers, relationships, and to personal wellbeing. I argue that online data can provide rich material for qualitative researchers interested in accessing hard-to-reach and ‘at risk’ groups, and to this end highlight other studies I am currently involved in, including men’s accounts of depression and help-seeking, and men who [mis]use various substances in order to fit contemporary male body ideals. I conclude by reiterating the virtues of internet research with marginalized communities: rich, naturalistic data which bears on identities, vulnerabilities and peer support.
- Louise Bordeaux Silverstein: “Gay Fathers: Expanding the Possibilities for All of Us”: This presentation describes a qualitative study of a convenience sample of 32 White, middle class men who became fathers as openly gay men. The fathers were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire in a focus group format. The data were analyzed using a grounded theory methodology. The narrative data depict the men’s paths toward fatherhood. Each dad defined his role as a generalist, a “mommy–daddy.” These dads created a family structure in which both parents were primary attachment figures, as well as highly involved in the public world of work. Thus they can serve as a model for heterosexual families to deconstruct the traditional gendered division of labor. Moreover, because these dads were parenting in the absence of mothers, they exploded the myths of motherhood and expanded the definition of what it means to be a man, including a gay man. Thus these gay dads encourage us to re-imagine gender roles, and re-conceptualize the definition of family – in their words, “Love makes a family.”
- Mary B. Killeen: “Weighing the Options: Requesting Workplace Accommodations”: This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study focused on the process of obtaining workplace accommodations from the perspectives of employees with disabilities. Past research on workplace accommodations focused on surveys of upper management, targeting company executives or human resource staff. While informative, this approach shed little light on the issues people with disabilities face in obtaining the accommodations they may need to be productive at their jobs. To fill this gap, another line of research has emerged consisting of a handful of qualitative studies that focus on the experiences of employees with disabilities. This study follows in that tradition by exploring how decisions regarding accommodations are made and carried out at the level of the shared workspace —the office environment, the retail space, and the factory floor. I conducted in-depth interviews with 20 employees regarding their experiences with workplace accommodations over the course of their careers. I used a modified grounded theory approach to sort and analyze the interview data. I will report on the decision-making processes of participants regarding whether to request an accommodation, the impact of supervisors’ and co-workers’ attitudes on participants’ decisions, the accommodations and disclosure issues faced by participants with non-apparent disabilities, and the psychological and practical impacts of having a request either approved or denied. This paper serves as an example of the importance of qualitative research in the field of disability studies in educating us on the often complicated psychological and sociological barriers people with disabilities face in gaining equal access to employment, healthcare, entertainment, recreation, and community and civic life. Qualitative methods can also serve to give individuals with disabilities a voice to inform others and to impact public policy as well as business and community practices.
- Susan G. Goldberg: “Teaching Reflexivity to Undergraduates When Interviewing People from Marginalized Groups”: Reflexivity in clinical work takes years to learn yet beginning qualitative researchers often fail to understand that qualitative research requires many of the same self-awareness skills as good psychotherapy. This lack of awareness is particularly true for undergraduates who have not yet had significant clinical training. They first need to learn to sit quietly and allow for silence, as well as other listening skills. Then they need to learn how to be reflective about their own “countertransference.” This awareness is particularly important when interviewing members of marginalized groups. The interviewers need to recognize, respect, and manage any strong reactions they may have to the affect, content, and status of the people being interviewed. I have been teaching mostly European American undergraduates who participate in an ongoing qualitative research study about the lives and experiences of inner city African Americans involved with a community agency. To date over 50 people have been interviewed, sharing their life stories and experiences of trauma with interview teams consisting of two students and myself or a teaching assistant. Teaching reflexivity is the first crucial task in preparing students. The intimate interactions in an interview necessarily stir up issues of power, privilege, race, culture, ethnicity, SES, age, and other areas of difference. Recognizing privilege and the assumptions that flow from it requires an openness that can be painful and require a vulnerability not often required in the academy. Finding a way to honor students’ newfound recognition of their own fears, prejudices, and presuppositions is a first step. The second step involves acknowledging the larger societal implications resulting from the power inequities, recognizing the need for social change, and committing to work towards change. I will share some examples from interview transcripts of powerful interactions crossing, challenging, and recognizing difference.
Panel III-C: Voicing the Voiceless: Descriptive Phenomenology as Emancipatory Psychiatric Research
James Morley (Chair, Ramapo College of New Jersey); Larry Davidson (Yale University), Miraj Desai (Yale University), Kimberly Guy (Yale University), & Frederick Wertz (Fordham University)
This panel will demonstrate the efficacy of descriptive phenomenological research with people who suffer from seriously disabling mental illness. As a qualitative method, phenomenology is particularly cognizant of the objectifying gaze of the natural attitude and its corollaries – the social structures undergirding the medical model. As such, phenomenology maintains an inherently emancipatory understanding of disabling psychological suffering. This panel will show how the core principles of phenomenological research can, through a unity of means and ends, not only elucidate and better comprehend psychiatric suffering but also, and most crucially, contribute to the recovery process itself. Through the phenomenological participatory approach, patients’ experiences are allowed to ‘speak for themselves,’ without defaulting to the persistent iatrogenic stigmas inherent to established cultural and medial interpretations of extreme psychological suffering.
- James Morley: “Introduction to Descriptive Phenomenological Method”: Though always inclusive of interpretation, Phenomenology is distinguished from most qualitative research methods by the weight it places on description. This presentation will briefly introduce the foundational principles and methods of descriptive phenomenology. Correcting certain misunderstandings in the secondary literature, it will be shown how phenomenological methodology is radically participatory, social and emancipatory. We will review Husserl’s foundational epistemological principle of ‘direct unmediated intuition’ and how this makes possible an approach to rigorous science that is neither inductive nor deductive. Consequent descriptive methodological procedures such as the epoche’, the psychological phenomenological reduction, and eidetic analysis will be briefly elucidated. Time permitting, further details with regard to concrete interview and data analysis techniques will be offered.
- Larry Davidson: “Involving Persons in Recovery in Psychiatric Research”: This presentation will describe strategies used to involve persons in recovery from serious mental illnesses in psychiatric research and offer examples of the kinds of results achieved from doing so. Drawing from over two decades of participatory research, Davidson will first address how research on presumably ‘clinical’ topics can be transformed through the involvement of persons living with the purported conditions being studied. Examples will include hospital recidivism, treatment disengagement, and processes of recovery. Based on these experiences of using participatory methods, Davidson will argue that the recent calls for patient and family stakeholder involvement in medical research (e.g., by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health) should be equally relevant to, and pressing for, research in behavioral health as for research in physical medicine.
- Kimberly Guy: “Being a Person in Recovery in Psychiatric Research”: Guy, herself a person in recovery from multiple behavioral health diagnoses, will then describe what has been involved in recruiting, retaining, and maximizing the contributions of persons in recovery to the research enterprise. She will describe the different roles persons in recovery have and can play in research, as well as the challenges that including such persons on research teams can pose in conventional academic settings. Finally, she will describe ways in which she has seen mental health and substance use services change as a result of eliciting and listening to the voices of persons who had previously been held voiceless.
- Miraj Desai: “A Grassroots Approach: Phenomenology, India, and the Autism Spectrum Disorders”: This paper demonstrates the power of phenomenological research to be a grassroots approach that features the perspectives of disempowered individuals and speaks to important social justice concerns. In particular, the paper will discuss a qualitative study of the parental experience of caring for a child with autism spectrum disorder in India. In addition to describing parents’ culturally-situated care of their child, the study documents the importance of attending to the psycho-social, -cultural, and -economic dimensions of their experience. Specific findings such as the vastly limiting role of poverty in certain parents’ experience, as well as the transformational power of the local grassroots parents’ collective to improve the lives of their children, will be discussed. The study suggests ways in which clinical psychology and psychiatry can better address social contributions to suffering. In concluding, the present research, which speaks to issues concerning ableism and differently-abled children, will be linked to a larger social justice and postcolonial project in psychology.
- Frederick Wertz: Discussant
Panel III-D: Articulating Moral Exclusion: How the Scope of Justice is Established—and Resisted—through Discourse
Andrew Pilecki (Chair, University of California, Santa Cruz); Phillip L. Hammack (University of California, Santa Cruz), Emese Ilyes (CUNY), Susan Opotow (CUNY), Patrick Sweeney (CUNY), & Erin Toolis (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Moral exclusion research has proliferated since the landmark issue of Journal of Social Issues headed by Susan Opotow was published over 20 years ago (e.g., Coryn & Barshuk, 2006; Lima-Nunes, Pereira, & Correia, 2013; Opotow, 1993,1994). Exploring the processes through which certain groups are viewed as either included or excluded from considerations of fair and just treatment is imperative for scholars interested in social justice. However, as highlighted by Cristian Tileaga (2007), more research is needed to understand the ways in which the “complex discursive accomplishment” of moral exclusion is accomplished through language. Qualitative research (e.g., Opotow, 2007, 2008) is uniquely positioned to address this gap within the literature. In this vein, this symposium features a series of qualitative studies that examine how political leaders and lay people alike discursively reproduce and resist boundaries of moral exclusion across a variety of contexts.
- Emese Ilyes: “Letters to the World: Reflecting on Desire, Dreams, and Possibilities from within a Sheltered Workshop”: Arguably one of the most stigmatized populations, people with intellectual disabilities are routinely segregated, silenced, and exploited. These abuses are active and implied, direct and institutional. Even within these exclusionary and unjust settings, the fire of activism burns creating a space in which to imagine a different world, a world that includes a supportive community, acceptance, the freedom to pursue one’s passions, and love. Through a qualitative discursive analysis of a woman’s letters from within a sheltered workshop (factory-like setting with sub-minimum wage work serving exclusively people with disabilities), we are compelled to envision a different reality. The analysis of these published letters (recently written and published in the United States) reveals provocative criticisms of human rights violations as well as awareness of the abuses in the systems supporting her. Her subjective interpretations grapple with and expand on our understanding of the complex environment and the agents surrounding her who promote morally exclusionary practices. In the same space where the author of the letters illuminates her experiences of moral exclusion she expresses her desires for social change, imploring the reader to find the same capacity for hope.
- Andrew Pilecki: “‘Either You are with Us, or You are with the Terrorists’: How Politicians Construct Moral Communities to Mobilize Support”: Political action often requires the mobilization of public support to be successful. The purpose of this study was to examine how moral claims were used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to construct and position the social categories of “us” versus “them” within political speeches made on the topic of terrorism. Findings revealed that the terrorism-related rhetoric of both presidents featured appeals to seemingly universal moral values. These appeals made it such that opposition to US counterterrorism efforts was framed as opposition to these values. In doing so, the category of “us” within presidential rhetoric came to represent a moral community consisting of the United States and others who adhere to these universal values. This rhetorical construction not only helped to marginalize “the terrorists” but also obfuscated US interests in prosecuting its counterterrorism strategy.
- Erin Toolis: “‘This is My Community’: Reproducing and Resisting Boundaries of Exclusion in Contested Public Spaces”: The question of who belongs in public space is one that is hotly contested and has profound implications for identity, social interaction, and participation in society. For individuals experiencing homelessness, with no private space to return to, survival hinges on the accessibility and livability of public space. However, public space is governed by material and symbolic boundaries separating insiders from outsiders, which are negotiated through discourse and institutionalized through public policies. Using thematic analysis, this study explores data from interviews with 29 housed and unhoused community members in California’s Bay Area, text from a local public policy proposal document, and ethnographic observations to explore how boundaries between insiders and outsiders are drawn in public space and mediated through individual discourse using the concept of narrative engagement. Findings suggest that boundaries of exclusion are constructed through dominant narratives that portray the unhoused as a threat to safety and economic vitality, thus justifying the need for regulation and punishment through the criminalization of homelessness. Yet participants also demonstrated resistance to this narrative by revealing that the criminalization of homelessness perpetuates dehumanization, violence, and economic inequality.
- Patrick Sweeney: “‘Born This Way’: Implications of Naturalness as a Condition for Inclusion in the Scope of Justice”: This paper consists of a discursive psychological analysis of arguments for the inclusion of homosexuals into the scope of justice that utilize evidence about the “naturalness” of homosexuality as a rhetorical tool. Media reports and statements from activist organizations were analyzed to examine how arguments for the moral inclusion of homosexuals are constructed. In a rapidly shifting yet stubbornly resilient sociopolitical context of homophobia, lesbians and gays still face the consequences of moral exclusion in unequal access to civil institutions, little legal recourse for workplace discrimination, bullying and social alienation, and the virulent persistence of violent hate crimes. In recent years, research produced in social psychology on the perception of gay faces has linked up with research from other social and natural scientific fields on the immutability, and possibly biological etiology, of sexual orientation to contribute to the “born this way” discourse. While this discourse has been utilized by some activists to argue for greater moral inclusion of lesbian and gay people in our society, the construction of some sexual practices as natural also re-emphasizes the construction of other sexual practices as unnatural. The implications of the use of the notion of naturalness as a condition for moral inclusion will be discussed in regard to efforts to widen the scope of justice to include other non-heteronormative sexualities and genders.
- Andrew Pilecki: Discussant
- Susan Opotow: Discussant
Concurrent Session IV (4:00 pm – 5:30 pm)
Panel IV-A: Identity, Ideology, and Reasoning: Qualitative Inquiry in the Psychology of Self and Culture in Context
Joseph Tennant (Chair, University of Chicago); Séamus A. Power (University of Chicago), Ahmad Qadafi (University of Chicago), & Gabriel Valez (University of Chicago)
Qualitative methods haves much to offer psychological research, and especially for research in content matter in which contextual variables such as culture or ideology are key topics of interest. Qualitative research is uniquely situated to study unstudied phenomenon (Camic, Rhodes, and Yardley, 2003) or to investigate extreme cases that may be problematic for probabilistic models statistical tests that rely on normal distribution of the outcome of interest. This is especially true for the study of topics such as identity or folk reasoning, as qualitative methods often require the researcher to treat the participant as intentional and treats their ideas and experiences as subjectively real (Marecek, 2003). Not dismissing the reasoning and cultural and historical contexts of participants as extraneous variability allows for rich insights into the day-to-day psychological realities that inform behavior and identity. This panel will present four studies which all utilize qualitative methods to investigate content-rich content areas such as collective memory, moral justification, identity development, and the development of civic identity. These studies utilize interviews, narrative analysis, thematic analysis, and legal and document analysis as sources of naturalistic data that challenge conventional psychological theories in these content areas.
- Joseph Tennant: “‘Let My Words Be Truth’: Differences in Moral Justification Between Atheists and Evangelical Christians and Their Implications for Moral Psychological Research”: Contemporary psychological research on moral reasoning typically studies morality from the perspective of harm-detection or intent to harm (Greene et al., 2011; Cushman, 2008) or from an evolutionary model of moral diversity based in affective response (Haidt, 2001). While these approaches do produce useful insights, they do not predict why American Evangelicals are morally divergent from geographically similar peers or what the nature of that difference will be. Using Shweder et al.’s notion of causal ontologies (Shweder et al, 1997), this project sought to demonstrate that atheists and Christians differ in their moral justification based in part on broad interpretations of the natural world and the source of rights. Additionally, this project sought to demonstrate that Evangelicals utilize moral reasoning not found in Atheist participants, but that this reasoning did not strictly fit the purity or authority foundation identified by past research on political conservatives (Haidt and Graham, 2007). This presentation will focus on the qualitative differences in the moral justifications utilized by Atheist and Evangelical participants, based on an analysis of structured interviews conducted with 30 atheist participants and 25 evangelical participants. These participants were presented with eight scenarios designed on news and practices relevant to both communities, and asked to make a moral judgment and to explain that judgment. While Atheist participants mostly utilized rights-based justifications centered in the autonomy of individuals, Evangelical participants utilized justifications based on sin and the design of the universe which were centered on God’s demands for human behavior. Critically, Evangelical participants recognized the autonomous rights of people to live in immoral ways, but still morally condemned them. These data show the unique contribution of qualitative methods and mixed methods (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003) by presenting moral reasoning as it is used rather than within forced-choice paradigms.
- Gabriel Valez: “The Universality of Human Rights in Civics Education: Psychological Assumptions in the Literature and a Hybridized Viewpoint Critique”: Over 70 years, the discourse of human rights has grown in use, scale and influence. This framework, based in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirms that for humanity there exists “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that…society shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and…to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance” (UN General Assembly). Within the field of education, this approach has been promoted as a path for adolescents to form an identity as a “global citizen” (Bajaj, 2011). In this way, through civic education, human rights discourse conveys a particular folk model of human development. There is a strong basis in social psychology, however, to understanding identity in this globalized context as a dynamically shifting process in which each person hybridizes their distinctive viewpoint with cultural models and discourse (Aveling & Gillespie, 2008). Citizenship in particular incorporates key psychological concepts of collective identity and intra and intergroup conflict (Condor, 2011). Educational curriculum serves institutionally to convey these norms to adolescents, and so schools are a key area in which to study the interaction of human rights discourse and adolescent identity. I argue that using textual analysis of human rights documents is an empirical path to understanding underlying assumptions about human psychology. From this basis, the questions raised by social psychological theory require exploring how actual students make meaning out of their interaction with human rights education curriculum. I present the case for employing qualitative research in post-conflict settings to investigate how the psychological assumptions of human rights discourse in education relate with adolescents’ identities and sense of belonging. Only through qualitative methods can the diverse adolescent interactions with these “common standards,” and the underlying psychological assumptions, be understood.
- Séamus A. Power: “The Cultural Psychology of an Irish Recession: A Violent Past but a Peaceful Present”: The way in which collective memory is narrated has implications for understanding how people act in the present and orient towards the future (Wagoner, 2013; Bartlett, 1932). This paper examines the role collective memories play in mitigating civil unrest since the 2008 Irish economic recession. I interviewed twenty highly influential people in the public eye in Ireland, and conducted a thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), to comprehend what aspects of the past they draw on to narrate the causes, consequences, and solutions to the economic recession. By anonymously interviewing significant social actors, who both form and circulate master narratives of the Irish response, I could reveal the underlying moral and cultural reasoning that was previously uncharted in both academic and public spheres. Current migration from Ireland is seen as a legitimate continuation of a historical response to hardship. My participants distanced contemporary peaceful Irish responses to austerity from previous violence on the island of Ireland. The central moral organizing principle that “you should reap what you sow,” and the endurance of collective suffering as a consequence of this moral foundation, is another factor used to explain the peaceful Irish response to austerity (Power and Nussbaum, 2014). On a theoretical level, this research suggests ways in which collective memories are used to inhibit violence and offer plausible alternatives about how to act when faced with crises.
- Ahmad Qadafi: “Identity, Participation, and Cognition: How Identifying with Either Academics of Athletics Mediates Verbal Reasoning”: The development of knowledge in individuals has generally been studied from two different perspectives, the cognitive and the socio-cultural. The former presumes that cognitive development in children involves changes in the structure of mental representations in regards to a particular domain (Carey, 1985; Sfard, 1998). The acquisitive model of learning is useful when tracking changes in the individual. However, it is insufficient for explaining the role of meaning and values in the acquisition of knowledge. In contrast, the participative theories of learning emphasize how the values, beliefs, including those concerning knowledge and learning, and practices of a particular domain of activity mediate the learning process (Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993). This model further proposes that the internalization of the values, beliefs and reasoning practices of that domain facilitates learning in that domain (Greeno, 1998; Kelly, G. J., & Green, J., 1998). My study focuses on how identity relates to use of verbal reasoning practices that enhance learning, and focuses on how academic identity constrains or promotes the use of transactive statements when discussing questions related to the aforementioned domain. Transactive dialogue is a form of dialogue in which participants openly challenge or transform the thinking of other participants and have been shown to improve learning (Berkowitz, M. W., & Gibbs, J. C., 1985). My findings are based on a structured group interviews and field experiments conducted with over 40 adolescent males. Participants were grouped according to how much they identified with sports versus science as based on forced choice survey. The expectation is that participants who identify more with one domain, such as science, will use more transactive statements when discussing a problem related to that domain. The use of qualitative methods, in conjunction with quantitative means, allows me to elucidate both the form and content of reasoning and capture any qualitative differences between how participants reason in the separate domains.
Panel IV-B: Mental Health Resilience: Strategies for Emotional Wellness in Black Americans
Babe Kawaii-Bogue (Chair, University of Michigan); Zuleka Henderson (Howard University), Quenette Walton (University of Illinois at Chicago), & Norissa Williams (CUNY)
Religious involvement, families, and communities play a significant role in mental health resilience for black Americans. In recent years, mental health researchers have shifted to a greater emphasis on resilience, such that empirical evidence regarding resilience, mental health, and black Americans is nearly absent from the literature. Our proposed symposium will present research using different methods and conceptual frames that can contribute to knowledge of mental health resilience on issues significant to the field of psychology. Each paper also engages previous theories and research from psychology and other social science disciplines. Our symposium will present research by four emerging scholars that explores the experience of groups from various age cohorts, socioeconomic statuses, genders and ethnic identities. Each paper uses a different qualitative methodology that is tailored to the respective question and population. Extensive critiques of each methodological approach will be discussed, along with implications of the findings for theory, research, and practice. We plan to discuss each paper separately and to then provide time for discussion and questions regarding these different approaches to research on emotional wellness in black Americans.
- Zuleka Henderson: “Using Dimensional Analysis to Understand How African American Teens Conceptualize and Approach Healing from Trauma”: Standardized mental health treatment has been heralded as an important resource for promoting resilience among African American adolescents with a history of trauma exposure. Relatedly, there has been an articulated goal of getting more African American teens connected to professional mental health services to help manage their trauma related mental health concerns. In an effort to identify, understand, and address barriers to treatment, investigators have increasingly used qualitative research to examine African American adolescents’ attitudes toward formal mental health services. While this work has enhanced knowledge about service utilization, there has been very little exploration of how African American teens generally perceive healing as an option. Understanding African-American adolescents’ subjective perceptions of the prospect and process of healing may offer critical insights into their own views of mental health resilience in the context of trauma. This presentation will examine how dimensional analysis offers a useful qualitative analytic tool for developing awareness about how African American adolescents construct the phenomenon of healing. With roots in symbolic interactionism, dimensional analysis has an underlying investment in meaning construction and the ways in which these meanings explain resulting cognitions and behaviors. Based on this methodological approach, to develop theoretical insights into problematic circumstances and experiences, the qualitative analyst critically examines and emulates research participants’ interpretive behaviors in an effort to reconstruct an explanatory framework for the phenomenon being studied. Thus, in effort to understand African American adolescents’ perspectives on trauma and mental health resilience, dimensional analysis affords an opportunity to deconstruct the concept of healing and develop a grounded theory of healing from the perspectives of African American teens. This work can offer insights on service use behaviors and present an opportunity to examine if/how Western frameworks for conceptualizing mental health resilience resonate with African American teens’ worldviews, as these worldviews pertain to healing.
- Babe Kawaii-Bogue: “An Examination of Coping Strategies for Depression Among a Community Sample of Older, Church-Going, African American Men”: African Americans have lower rates of depression when compared with other ethnic groups in the U.S., and older African American men have even lower rates of depression than their female and younger male counterparts. Researchers have attributed lower depression rates in older African Americans to religious involvement. However, once diagnosed with depression, the course of the illness for African Americans is more severe and persistent than for other ethnic groups. Presently, the number and methodological range of studies examining African American men’s experiences with emotional health are sorely lacking. Ultimately, this study seeks to fill a gap in the literature by identifying depression coping strategies, to ultimately improve intervention protocols and prevent the intensifying course of depression for this population. The present study employed a qualitative phenomenological approach to examine coping strategies for depression using transcribed focus group data of twenty-one older African American men. Participants ranged in age from 50 to 87 years and all participants were church members at one of three predominantly black churches in the Midwest. To analyze the participants’ coping strategies for depression, this study employed a six-step manual content analysis of the three focus group transcripts. Employing a phenomenological approach to examining the phenomenon was based on two factors. First was to ensure the capability of using psychological analysis of interpretation in framing concepts of depression with more clarity. Second, was determined by acknowledging the researcher’s power to examine the descriptions with specialized sensitivity to the construct of mental health coping among a marginalized population. Ultimately, the methodology chosen refuted an imposed definition of depression. Results reveal that the participants utilize a total of twenty-three thought processes and religiously derived coping strategies for depression. Religiously derived coping strategies, methodological limitations, research, policy and practice implications will be discussed.
- Quenette Walton: “Mental Health Resilience Among Middle-Class African American Women’s Experiences with Depression: Employing the Grounded Theory Method”: Despite significant strength among African American women, studies consistently demonstrate that African American women fail to seek treatment for depression and are often misdiagnosed. In addition misdiagnosis, African American women experiencing depression are likely to face other stressors such as racism, sexism, and classism, which can adversely impact their depression. Research has also linked depression to multiple role obligations and found poverty to be one of the most consistent predictors of depression in women. Very little depression research explores the factors associated with the perceptions and experiences of middle-class African American women. There is a dearth of empirical knowledge regarding the ways in which race-, class-, and gender-related discrimination intersect to influence middle-class African American women’s perceptions and experiences with depression. As such, this presentation illustrates how the systematic procedures of Charmaz and Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory techniques serve as useful ways to deeply understand the meanings and processes associated with middle-class African American women’s experiences with depression, the mechanisms that put them at risk for and protect them from depression, as well as explore their understandings of wellness. Charmaz and Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory methods allow the investigator to fully unpack participants’ views, feelings, and actions, as well as the contexts and structures associated with their experiences with depression and the factors that influence mental health resilience. In doing so, the researcher arrives at a rich understanding of middle-class African American women’s worlds and develops a grounded theory of depression and mental health resilience from the perspectives of the women. With more research calling for contextual factors to address the experiences of depression and mental health resilience, this work allows us to move beyond the implementation of traditional treatment modalities, to interventions that are culturally and contextually sensitive among middle class African American women.
- Norissa Williams: “A Caribbean American Case Study of Coping, Culture & Resilience”: The last two decades have provided us with an increasing and valuable amount of literature on coping and resilience. However, little is known about how culture influences the selection of strategies to cope with everyday stressful experiences. Moreover, Western cultures and theorists have dominated discussion on this topic, such that literature exploring culturally diverse coping styles is lacking. For the purposes of obtaining an in depth, intimate portrayal of how coping processes may vary across cultures, an inductive approach to a case study was selected for theory generation. The selected participant is a 67 year-old woman, originally from Trinidad and Tobago. A systematic manual content analysis of the transcribed case interview was conducted to identify themes. Contrary to common responses found in Western literature, responses from this case sample did not exemplify coping in a linear fashion—rather than coping as a process that takes place in an individual, this case analysis revealed that coping occurs within an interpersonal dynamic, specifically involving the community. The case study was limited in certain respects. Perspectives of the participant reflect an early sociocultural period in history, which may not be reflective of the current culture. Nonetheless, this case study was used to generate a theory to conceptualize coping with mental health concerns and everyday stressful life experiences. Extensive methodological considerations and findings will be discussed.
Panel IV-C: Psychoanalytic Contributions to Qualitative Inquiry: Navigating Transferences to Psychoanalysis In and Beyond the Clinic and Classroom
Amy Taylor (Chair, The Austen Riggs Center); Marilyn Charles (The Austen Riggs Center), Kristen Hennessy (Private Practice), & Stephanie Swales (University of Dallas)
In this panel, composed of qualitative researchers who are also practicing psychoanalytically-oriented clinicians, panelists describe how they make use of psychoanalytic qualitative inquiry, offer strategies for teaching psychoanalytic methods and overcoming obstacles to doing so with students, patients, and broader social systems, and present psychoanalysis as a resource and an ally of qualitative inquiry in psychology generally. Psychoanalysis has long suffered in popularity and acceptance in the U.S. due to numerous complex and interacting factors such as our culture’s preference for empirical natural science and psychotropic medications to explain and or treat psychopathology, or a perception of psychoanalysis as old-fashioned, impractical, and elitist. However, we recognize psychoanalysis as an approach to human phenomena that is deeply respectful of the individuality and authority of its subjects, as well as a practical resource which has much to offer as a strategy for learning about human phenomena. This presentation addresses how panelists work through resistances to psychoanalytic inquiry and demystify psychoanalysis, which involves addressing common objections to and misconceptions about psychoanalysis held in our cultural context, as well as by considering, in true psychoanalytic fashion, the transferences of specific individuals and groups toward psychoanalysis.
- Stephanie Swales: “Lacanian Psychoanalysis as Anti-Psychologizing and Its Benefits for Teaching Qualitative Research”: In teaching qualitative research to undergraduate and graduate students, I help uncover and work through their preconceptions about psychoanalytic theory and research via three methods. One, I teach them a principle-based ethics that corresponds with the desire of the analyst in Lacanian psychoanalysis. For example, making use of Lacan’s statement “there is no such thing as a metalanguage,” I encourage students to avoid the mistakes inherent in believing a qualitative research method to provide a privileged access to the truth of the individual, as if we could come to know the thing in itself (Kant). This involves the often difficult tasks of seeing one’s perspective as but one of an array of possible viable perspectives, tolerating ambiguity, and allowing points of disagreement to stand rather than attempting to conceal or explain them away. Second, I teach students about the ways in which psychoanalysis has often been taken up by qualitative research in psychology but been disavowed. This psychologization of psychoanalysis has unfortunately promoted, for instance, research methods which reproduce stereotyped representations of the analyst pushing aside irrelevant manifest content amidst a jumble of free associations and then gaining unfettered access to peer into the “latent” content of the mind of the unsuspecting research subject. Finally, I advocate for students to take up the project of critical psychology in conducting their psychoanalytically-informed qualitative research by, for example, disrupting psychologized pretensions to capturing the inner (or outer, for that matter) truth of the individual, and that instead psychological “truth” is always half-said and uttered in a way that is intrinsically bound up with the forces against which it communicates.
- Marilyn Charles: “In Another Tongue: Psychoanalysis and Reflective Function”: Psychoanalysis is often considered an elite enterprise and yet in many countries its introduction into the culture invites individuals from all walks of life to choose it for their children and loved ones. Even in North America, psychoanalysis is alive and well, used across socioeconomic status, in low-fee clinics with the poor and also with the homeless. Research shows the effectiveness of psychoanalysis with individuals suffering from a wide array of difficulties including psychosis. From a Lacanian perspective, the analyst’s ethic is always in relation to the ability of the other person to come to know and articulate his own desire. This type of process is usefully viewed in terms of the development of the metacognitive functions well described in the research tool developed by Paul Lysaker and his colleagues. The PAS tracks the ability to recognize one’s own feelings and thoughts, to recognize the feelings of thoughts and others, and to be able to distinguish between the two. In my work with those who have not developed sufficient metacognitive capacities to be able to find their way effectively in the world, psychoanalysis affords a means for learning to pay attention to one’s own internal signals within a context in which such recognition is both valued and meaningful. Many of my patients enter my consulting room having come to a stopping point in their lives, desperate for pragmatic assistance but imagining that psychoanalysis would have nothing to offer. In tracing the story of the life, we can recognize places in which development was impeded, ways in which their own feelings and desires were overridden, either by trauma or by the desires of others, and we can begin to look inside rather than outside for signs that might become useful signals to guide them on their way.
- Kristen Hennessy: “Fostering an Ethnographic Entourage: Lacanian Psychoanalytic Work in the Foster Care System”: Analytic work with children never simply involves the child and children in foster care typically arrive for treatment with a veritable entourage. Family systems, legal systems, school systems, and the mental health care systems all interact with and have expectations of the child’s analysis. What’s more, each member of the child’s entourage approaches the child’s analysis with particular resistances and fantasies. The clinician must determine whether, when, how, and why to engage various members of the child’s “entourage” and whether, when, how, and why to educate about psychoanalysis in the service of the child’s treatment. This paper explores various methods of educating members of the child’s entourage about psychoanalysis. This paper argues that, although it is useful to share some general principles of treatment (such as the notion that a child’s symptom is trying to speak, that children ought not be told what to talk about in their sessions, and that children may say anything at all in sessions), it is often most beneficial to approach the entourage as potential ethnographers and to instill an attitude of curiosity without interpretation. Enlisting the child’s entourage in this manner takes on increased importance in cases of severely traumatized children whose behaviors are often quite trying for caregivers, who may be either frustrated by the child’s behaviors trying to interpret the child’s behaviors in terms of their own understanding, or both. The ethnographic attitude can serve not only to provide the clinician with useful information, but to help those working with the child to create a space of mutual curiosity that furthers the analytic project by encouraging the child herself to engage in interpretation.
- Amy Taylor: “Autoethnographic Reflections on Self-Authorization and the Collaborative Process of Learning and Teaching Psychoanalytic Inquiry”: Lacan famously stated that the authorization of an analyst can come only from himself. As I understand it, this means that becoming constituted as an analytic thinker and becoming responsible for one’s own mind is a reflexive, developmental process and involves attention to experience as a source of data. Drawing from my experiences learning and teaching psychoanalytic inquiry as a psychoanalytic trainee and psychotherapist, teacher, supervisor, and interviewer, I employ authoethnographic methodology (C. Ellis) to elaborate my own reflexive process of “learning about learning” and inviting others into a process of learning about their minds and authorizing themselves to take seriously their own experiences as points of access. This process involves learning to tolerate ambiguity and becoming sufficiently aware of and differentiated from one’s context to appreciate one’s unique experience and become curious about diverse experiences. In speaking about the “how-to” of learning to engage in psychoanalytic thinking, I discuss psychoanalytic inquiry as a narrative method which aims to draw out the stories of students, patients, and research participants as a hermeneutic of restoration. I also discuss psychoanalytic inquiry as simultaneously a hermeneutic of suspicion which points to meanings outside of a subject’s conscious awareness toward broader group, social, and cultural meanings which provide context for her experience.
Panel IV-D: Speaking Back from the Margins: Incorporating Participant Marginalia in Survey and Interview Research
Sara McClelland (Chair, University of Michigan); Breanne Fahs (Arizona State University), Kathryn Holland (University of Michigan), & Brett Stoudt (CUNY)
In this symposium, we explore the issue of marginalia provided by participants in survey and interview research. Marginalia is a term borrowed from literary studies that denotes reader responses and/or authors’ notes in the margins of texts. Examinations of participant marginalia offer a unique form of qualitative data, ranging from marks left on surveys to denote emphasis and disagreement, writing in answers not provided by researchers, as well as comments and consistent mis-understandings between researcher and participant in interview contexts. Across the three papers, we argue that communication in the margins of our research presents an under-studied form qualitative data that can and should be incorporated into subsequent analyses of data. In the symposium papers, three studies are presented where forms of marginalia were collected, analyzed, and incorporated into the study’s findings. Paper 1 analyzes notes left by participants next to and around items designed to measure sexual function. Analysis of comments revealed the ways that participants consistently marked how the items did not sufficiently represent their experiences. Paper 2 details a large participatory action research project in the South Bronx where survey items routinely prompted marginalia as participants detailed instances of “stop and frisk” in their neighborhood. Paper 3 describes marginalia collected over the course of 40 interviews. Rather than written marginalia as in the other two papers, Paper 3 makes an argument for marginalia that exists around the edges of interview material. Together, the three papers detail a set of methodological practices that can be developed and adapted by other researchers who decide to attend to marginalia in their own work.
- Sara McClelland & Kathryn Holland: “‘This Question Doesn’t Apply to Me’: Incorporating Marginalia in Survey Analysis – A Case of Study of the Female Sexual Function Index”: We describe an analysis of marginalia provided by participants (N=113) on a paper and pencil survey used in a study of sexual health with women diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of discarding participants’ notes, underlines, and cross-outs throughout the survey, we understood these as an essential form of data that (1) provide useful information about participants’ lives and (2) produce new analytic strategies that more adequately incorporate participants’ experiences. We focus on a case study of marginalia prompted by the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI; Rosen et al., 2000), a 19-item self-report scale that measures female sexual function and is one of the most commonly used scales in sexual health research. We focus on participant feedback of this particular scale because it elicited a great deal of participant marginalia (136 instances of marginalia across 19 items) – participants left a range of comments, cross-outs and markings as a means to describe the limitations of the FSFI as an accurate measure of their lives. Using a combination of content and thematic analysis strategies, we identified three categories of marginalia (meaning-making, changing the terms, and opting out) and detail how the qualitative forms of marginalia provided by participants were analyzed and used to guide analysis decisions when working with quantitative survey data.
- Brett Stoudt: “Analyzing the Quantitative Margins: Exploring the Potentiality of Unexpected Qualitative Data in the Margins of Community Surveys”: An examination of the “margins” of survey research allows one to observe how participants respond in a variety of ways unintended by that original design of the surveyor. In these “extra” responses we see elaborations, nuances, corrections, resistance, and a host of other strategies by the respondent to be heard and understood beyond the boundaries of the survey structure. If we apply a qualitative lens to a quantitatively-envisioned methodology, we can recognize many respondents as pushing the limits of our survey methodology and in doing so teach us not only about the complexity of the issue of interest, but also provide evidence that the survey experience is more dynamic and less inflexible than originally assumed. This presentation will describe a participatory action research project in the South Bronx that used a community survey (N=1,030) to study the neighborhood’s experiences with and attitudes towards police. By remaining open to the potential importance of this “extra” data on the margins, we developed a methodological process to treat marginalia seriously as the data were entered into a statistical program. All of the examples uncovered – many more than originally anticipated – were digitally photographed along with pertinent demographic information and organized using PowerPoint slides. By thematically analyzing all the images, we were offered nuanced perspectives of the respondents’ answers as well as forced to confront our own assumptions written into the survey. Our dialogue with the respondents as mediated through the survey highlighted the false dichotomy of the qualitative and quantitative debate and instead, revealed how the multiple sources of data were part of a whole that helped us develop a deeper understanding of how residents experienced policing in the South Bronx.
- Breanne Fahs: “Methodological Mishaps and Slippery Subjects: Stories of First Sex, Oral Sex, and Sexual Trauma in Qualitative Sex Research”: Numerous assumptions—many rooted in privilege, educational status, and hegemonic power norms—are embedded in the process of collecting qualitative research on people’s sexualities, particularly surrounding meaning-making, language, and sexual scripts. This paper interrogates three moments in qualitative sex research where researcher and participants’ meaning making around sexuality diverge, raising complicated questions around co-construction of sexual subjectivity. Drawing from interview data with a diverse community sample of 40 women (interviewed in 2011 and 2014, diverse age, race, class, and sexual identities) in a large southwestern metropolitan city, I outline three methodological “mishaps.” First, I examine how questions about “first sex” evoke complicated webs of stories that center on early sexual traumas, non-penetrative sexual experiences, and virginity loss. Further, asking about women’s “experiences with oral sex” reveals how women construct themselves as performing sexual labor via giving rather than receiving oral sex, while asking about women’s worst sexual experiences either highlighted, or erased, sexual violence. Implications for the impact of how sex researchers word questions, along with how women push and rewrite typical sexual scripts in qualitative research, are discussed. Ultimately, the paper focuses on both methodologically slippery questions as well as the power embedded in women’s rewriting of their narratives in spite of, and within, questions about their sexual stories.
Break (5:30 pm – 6:30 pm)
Closing Plenary Session (6:30 pm – 8:30 pm)
Methodological Innovations in Qualitative Inquiry with Marginalized Populations
Joseph P. Gone (Chair, University of Michigan); Sunil Bhatia (Connecticut College), Michelle Fine (CUNY), Daniel B. Fishman (Rutgers University), Marco Gemignani (Duquesne University), & Cynthia Winston-Proctor (Howard University)
The purpose of this panel is to intellectually engage the conference audience with ideas, examples, and reflections at the intersection of qualitative inquiry and group-based experiences of powerlessness, oppression, marginality, discrimination, and difference. More specifically, for this panel, invited speakers will address the question: How has your conduct of qualitative inquiry with marginalized populations involved or required methodological innovations in service to a more robust psychological account? Four participants (Bhatia, Fine, Gemignani, & Winston-Proctor) will offer prepared remarks in response to this question on the basis of their research. A discussant (Fishman) will then reflect more generally on these contributions, followed by a facilitated conversation (Gone) among all in attendance.