The Identity Politics of Qualitative Research. A Discourse Analytic Inter-text


  • Pascal Dey
  • Julia C. Nentwich Universität St. Gallen



binaries, hierarchy, feminist theory, identity politics, etymology of science, innovation and cross-fertilisation


We intend this paper to be read as an inter-text between selected FQS articles, which in one way or another engage in the identity politics of qualitative research, and the broader discussion of quality in the social sciences. Subjecting those texts to a discursive investigation, we highlight how the semantic scope of what is called "qualitative research" is decisively delimited by the positivist associations of "good research". Our overall aim is to take issue with two binaries that are commonly employed by qualitative researchers and thus collide with the evolution of creative/aesthetic science. Simultaneously, however, we seek to enliven qualitative research by providing an (ancient and thus marginal) understanding of research and of approaches that are still outside the prevailing canon. To this end, we start by investigating the binary between quantitative and qualitative research that is perpetually reified as our colleagues invoke the positivist quality criteria, subordinating the qualitative pole to an inferior position. Second, we provide examples of the ways that qualitative research is habitually separated from "non-research" such as the arts, journalism and fiction, ostensibly to justify calling it "scientific". Pondering how these binaries endow qualitative research with a limited identity and a supplementary status, we draw on some postmodern works so as to elaborate on alternative understandings of "science" and scientific quality. Finally, we argue for a "politics of difference" which we envision as a point of origin for extending qualitative research by multiplying its genres, styles and tropes. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0604286


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Author Biographies

Pascal Dey

Lic. phil. Pascal DEY is a research assistant at the Research Institute for Organisational Psychology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. His scholarly interests relate to Continental Philosophy, especially such figures as Jacques DERRIDA, Michel FOUCAULT, Emmanuel LEVINAS and Michel SERRES. His writing has focused thus far on (attempted) suicide and deliberate self harm, social entrepreneurship and higher education (above all in the business school context).

Julia C. Nentwich, Universität St. Gallen

Dr. Dipl.-Psych. Julia C. NENTWICH is a research fellow and lecturer at the Research Institute for Organisational Psychology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. She is also the university's coordinator for the national project Gender Studies Switzerland. Her research focuses on issues around gender, diversity and change in organisations and society from social constructionist and discursive perspectives.




How to Cite

Dey, P., & Nentwich, J. C. (2006). The Identity Politics of Qualitative Research. A Discourse Analytic Inter-text. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(4).