The Scientist's Fear of Aesthetics. Reply to Jo Reichertz' "On the Problem of Validity of Qualitative Research

Andreas Huber


Jo REICHERTZ' intelligent article "On the Problem of Validity of Qualitative Research" cannot be objected to on a purely argumentative level. Therefore, the aim of this reply is less to contradict REICHERTZ but to add to his arguments a few new ones. However, within these arguments our conclusions are different: the social sciences principally do not need "models of quality assurance" but rather an opening towards aesthetics, art and media. Hence, this reply can be understood as a pledge for a break from a bitter seriousness on the one hand and for a removal of the constricting scientific language corset on the other hand. With the application of experimental literary techniques (for instance narration, reportage, collage, and montage), which are radically separated from academic discourse by the (outmoded) modern concept of science, the postmodern ethnography presented here tries to make explicit the socio-cultural constructs of narrated reality. As opposed to the last tragic heroes of modernity—the intellectuals—, the postmodern intellectual plays the role of an interpreter. That means, he's primarily a translator, mediator, and communicator. His modest, but challenging task consists of putting across propositions and results coming from particular contexts to people who are living in other contexts and traditions. To reach that he uses strategies like esprit, irony, parody and humour. As the translation has to be made principally for the public—and not only for a little circle of specialists of the same occupational group—criteria of readability and entertainment are more important than strict standards of validity and reliability.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs010210


Models of quality assurance; aesthetics; postmodern ethnography and epistemology


Copyright (c) 2001 Andreas Huber

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