Summer Institute in Qualitative Research

Keynote Speaker Abstracts

On matters of Soft theory and affected belief: a psychoanalytic approach to the defense of theory
Deborah Britzman, York University, Canada

From the inception of psychoanalytic theory, Freud claimed that psychoanalysis was unbelievable but that was no reason to abandon the work. The tension is that one cannot really "see," empirically prove, or measure the value and affects of theory. But few discussions consider the learning of theory as the means for understanding. Yet in both the psychoanalytic clinic and the clinic of the university, the place of theory and its conflict with experience and identity provokes a great deal of resistance, conflicts of loyalty, and learning anxiety. This presentation resides in these matters to ask, what do we learn about thinking in emotional life through the psychoanalytic study of the often quoted conflict between theory and practice. I ask why theory may need a defense.

Decolonizing research in new spaces with new possibilities?
Linda Tuhiwai Smith, University of Waikato, New Zealand

My conversation turns around a set of questions we could ask about ‘decolonizing research’ , for example; why decolonise? What possibilities yet to be imagined might arise from a decolonising approach? Is decolonisation simply a 20th century concern? What theories and methodologies have indigenous peoples brought to the table? Are new and transformative theories and methodologies emerging that address the issues of colonial and imperial knowledge construction? I do not claim to be able to answer the questions with ‘right’ answers, but the questions are core to a decolonising approach and are worth asking.

Mixed methods research: what is the role of qualitative methods?
Harry Torrance, Manchester Metropolitan University

Over the last ten years or so, the ‘field’ of ‘Mixed Methods Research’ (MMR) has increasingly been exerting itself as something separate, novel and significant, and claiming paradigmatic status. Yet mixing methods in social research has a long and in many respects unremarkable history. Mixing methods was simply regarded as the proper way to do good research. Moreover current articulations of mixed methods tend to relegate qualitative approaches to an ancillary and/or subsidiary role – briefly illustrating general findings which have been generated (more securely, it is implied) by other methods. Why is MMR now being articulated as a novel development and what scope might there be for a more significant engagement with the insights and values that permeate qualitative approaches?

Plugging one text into another: thinking with theory in qualitative research
Lisa Mazzei, Gonzaga University, USA

The idea of “plugging in” comes from my work with Alecia Jackson. We borrow the phrase and what it implies from Deleuze and Guattari in a “plugging in” of theory into data into theory. In thinking with theory, one is confronted with multiple texts - or literary machines: interview data, tomes of theory, things previously written, traces of data, reviewer comments, and so on ad infinitum. And so the move to engage "plugging in" is presented as a process rather than a concept, something that can be put to work, for as Rosi Braidotti urges in this time of change, "the challenge lies in thinking about processes, rather than concepts." Plugging in to produce something new is a constant, continuous process of making and unmaking. This session will focus on a description of how we have engaged the process of “plugging in” multiple theories into the same data set moving away from traditional interpretation into realms of post-humanist “data analysis.”

Time, space and ethics: thinking through Marx
Helen Colley, Manchester Metropolitan University

The first decade of the 21st century has brought neither ‘the end of history’, nor the creation of greater social justice. Instead, it has continued to produce sharp increases in social and economic inequalities, major crises in the capitalist system, and war across the globe. At home, the Con-Dem coalition government has embarked on a severe ‘austerity’ drive, warning that ‘life as we know it’ will change beyond recognition. It is no wonder that many activists and scholars around the world are returning to Marx’s original thought to understand these developments and potential responses to them. One immediate concern in times of austerity is the impact of drastic funding cutbacks on the ethics of practice in education and other human service work, creating tensions that are all too often lived as intolerable stresses by practitioners. This keynote lecture discusses Marxist understandings of time, perhaps best known in David Harvey’s work on time-space. In contrast to dominant philosophical notions of time as an external backdrop to human action, these ideas help us to see that time is generated by human practice rather than just a context for it. Moreover, time is generated in different registers which – under capitalism – inevitably compete, and are therefore deeply connected with ethics. Until now, Marxist theory on time has largely been applied in the male-dominated space of commodity production. However, it has great potential relevance in the predominantly female space of social reproduction work, such as education and other human services. Weaving together the threads of time, space and ethics, then, how can we understand possibilities of opening up time-spaces of resistance?

Heroin’s monstrous beauties: mark(et)ing affect and abject
Kate McCoy, State University of New York at New Paltz

Qualitative data gathered in the course of several studies of heroin use and access to healthcare for people who use drugs have been used to document addicted subjection, traumatizing stigma, and fatal neglect in efforts to effect policy change. These accounts fall short, as do most efforts to document damage expecting reparations and amelioration. This paper considers such failures by thinking through the affective turn in critical theory, sketching a series of encounters with what Brian Massumi has called “generic figures of affective capture”—the emergent opiate addicts of the nineteenth century (the white male celebrity addict, the “Chinaman,” and the middle-class housewife), the junkie girl of 1950s pulp fiction, and the monstrous beauties of the 1990s heroin chic phenomenon. These figures are theorized as markers of affect and abjection, markers that complicate as well as feed the market logic of the rise of the neoliberal state.

Democracy, Education and Reclaiming Narratives of the Future
Keri Facer, Manchester Metropolitan University

Ideas of the future proliferate in educational discourse. They permeate discussions between teachers and students, between policy makers and practitioners. They are used to call for change and to stake claims to authority. In this talk I’ll explore the different approaches that researchers in the educational futures arena have taken to try to build more democratic and participatory approaches to ‘researching the future’, and ask whether these are adequate for our contemporary political conditions.

Research, practice, emergence; or, emergent methodologies in educational research
Bill Green, Charles Sturt University, Australia

Seeking to better understand research as a form of practice in itself, this paper draws on recent theoretical developments and debates especially in what is called practice theory and philosophy to explore the challenge of the emergent, specifically with reference to educational research. Directly referenced more often than not to both policy and pedagogy, educational research is increasingly constrained in various respects, and arguably needs to find other ways of being justified and valued. By working here with the twin motifs of practice and emergence, I want to provide possible ways of affirming research as a creative enterprise, in the context of working through different theoretical perspectives and resources in scholarly work.

Classification or wonder? Coding as an analytic practice in qualitative research
Maggie MacLure, Manchester Metropolitan University

I develop a critique of coding as an analytic practice in qualitative research. The critique is influenced by the work of Deleuze, in that it prioritises movement, becoming, difference, heterogeneity and that which exceeds ‘capture’ by language. Coding, by contrast, works for stasis, structure, resemblance and representation. However I do not conclude that coding should be abandoned as an analytic practice. I argue that there is languorous pleasure and something resolute in the slow intensity of coding – an ethical refusal to take the easy exit to quick judgement, free-floating empathy, or illusions of data speaking for itself. More importantly, I argue that the slow work of coding allows something other, singular, quick and ineffable to irrupt into the space of analysis. Call it wonder.