Reclaiming Impact in Qualitative Research


  • Karen Ross University of Massachusetts Boston Wheatley



impact, qualitative research, transformation, dialogue, intersubjectivity


In both academic and practitioner literature, the term "impact" is conceptualized broadly. Yet the application of impact is construed much more narrowly, in association with (uni)-directional relationships between variables and methodological frameworks oriented towards a positivist approach. Such a conceptualization is problematic, particularly in the context of initiatives that have a goal of internal, individual transformation. Thus, I suggest reconceptualizing impact to acknowledge human agency and explore change more holistically. I argue for a reclaiming of impact by the post-positivist qualitative research community, given the potential of qualitative methodologies to elucidate dialogic understandings of impact and the intersubjective context through which transformation emerges.


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Author Biography

Karen Ross, University of Massachusetts Boston Wheatley

Karen ROSS is an associate professor in the Conflict Resolution Programs at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. In her research, she focuses on questions at the intersection of grassroots peace-building, education, and social activism. She is particularly interested in methodological and conceptual issues related to assessing the impact of endeavors aimed at nonviolent social change.




How to Cite

Ross, K. (2022). Reclaiming Impact in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 23(2).



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