Opening Spaces of Possibility: The Enactive as a Qualitative Research Approach


  • Johnna Haskell Carrabassett Valley Academy
  • Warren Linds Concordia University
  • John Ippolito York University



experiencing, embodied, knowing, bodymind, action, awareness, ethics, language, performative inquiry, co-emergence, possibility, pedagogy


In this jointly written article, reflexivity and subjectivity in qualitative research are addressed through an enactive view/approach incorporating embodied knowing. Inspired by MERLEAU-PONTY's (1962) concepts of embodied action, this approach implies that knowing emerges collectively through engagement in shared action. Embodied action brings forth an awareness of inquiry which is not attached to any one event or concept but is, rather, an un-grounding, as knowing is shaped by our actions with/in the world. Groundlessness is an exciting "space" where possibility arises for how we think about knowledge, cognition, and experience. If knowledge and learning are not located in a body, but in the shifting movement of experiencing, new possibilities emerge for how researchers perceive, interpret, research, and interact within the world. We cannot imagine ourselves just "operating in" research settings, and then leaving the cultures of which we are part. Nor can we ignore the ethics of research, since research is also the site of an ongoing ethical event implicating all those involved. Research informed by and respectful of complex worlds are instances of complicity where our research unfolds with/in communities-in-the-making. Opportunities for shared, relational, and embodied interpretation practices open as we share our research in situated contexts—the outdoors, within drama workshops, and in second language learning environments. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0203145


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Author Biographies

Johnna Haskell, Carrabassett Valley Academy

Johnna HASKELL, Ph. D., is the Director of Academic Programs at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine. Her research interests explore outdoor experience, ecological and enactive perspectives, and freefall pedagogy. Her passion in education explores the unknown and unexpected. She is a co-editor of Unfolding bodymind: Exploring possibility through education (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2001),

Warren Linds, Concordia University

Warren LINDS, Ph. D. is a popular theater facilitator living in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and has been working in popular theater and community education since 1978. He is interested in the exploration of the facilitation and development of transformative drama processes that address issues of racism through a performative writing and research methodology. He is currently a sessional lecturer in cross cultural education, social studies and theater at the University of Regina. Warren is also co-editor of Unfolding bodymind: Exploring possibility through education.

John Ippolito, York University

John IPPOLITO is in the final stage of his doctoral studies at York University in the Faculty of Education's Graduate Program in Language, Culture and Teaching. His doctoral research is an ethnographic study of pedagogical responsibility in junior school classrooms characterized by linguistic diversity. It is the first step in a broader theory of multilingual education as an ethical practice. He has a professional background in teaching English as a second language.




How to Cite

Haskell, J., Linds, W., & Ippolito, J. (2002). Opening Spaces of Possibility: The Enactive as a Qualitative Research Approach. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 3(3).