Recovering the "Individual" for Qualitative Research: An Idiographic Approach


  • Blake Peck Federation University Australia
  • Jane Mummery Federation University Australia



idiographic, qualitative research, personal construct theory, experience, George Kelly


As detailed examination of the experience of the individual, the Self or the I is overtaken in the intellectual climate of qualitative research by an aim to understand human experience on a collective or transferable level, the claim made by qualitative researchers to providing genuine understanding of the "what is it like" characteristics of being human arguably becomes shaky. If the wellspring from which we draw our understanding is limited to understandings that researchers recognize as general, then the unique and deeper characteristics of individual experience may be buried within the aggregate. We contend that any such restricted approach cannot begin by itself to cogently inform a theory of or a theory for examining human experience that is sufficiently sophisticated for qualitative research practice. Consequently, we propose a recovery and inclusion, into qualitative research frameworks, of a strongly idiographic consideration of the "what is it like" characteristics of phenomena, as experienced by the individual person. Recommending thereby a recovery of hermeneutic and phenomenological modes of thought, in this article, we suggest that the central ideas of KELLY's personal construct psychology involve fertile ground for guiding such a shift in qualitative research.


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Author Biographies

Blake Peck, Federation University Australia

Blake PECK is a senior lecturer at Federation University Australia, School of Nursing and Healthcare Professions. He is involved in the theoretical development of new ways to understand human being for the purposes of qualitative research and founded hermeneutic constructivism, a theoretical position that is committed to understanding the idiographic nature of human experience. His main research topics involve understanding the life-world of children with a health related issue and their families.

Jane Mummery, Federation University Australia

Jane MUMMERY is a senior research fellow in the School of Arts at Federation University Australia, and the author of "The Post to Come: An Outline of Post-Metaphysical Ethics" (Peter Lang, 2005), of "Understanding Feminism" (with Peta BOWDEN, Acumen, 2009), "Radicalizing Democracy for the Twenty-First Century" (Routledge, 2017), and an array of articles primarily concerned with the ethico-political possibilities of phenomenological philosophy, with a particular focus on revisions of its enlightenment heritage. She is currently involved in research deconstructing qualitative framings of knowledge and ethics, the democratic possibilities of new media, and the possible trajectories of post-Enlightenment applied ethics.




How to Cite

Peck, B., & Mummery, J. (2019). Recovering the "Individual" for Qualitative Research: An Idiographic Approach. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(3).