Troubling Methods in Qualitative Inquiry and Beyond

Lene Tanggaard


This present paper troubles and literally ‘shakes’ the idea of methods as the founding ground of qualitative inquiry. It does so by addressing the real-time messiness of research and the retrospective character of research reports. While the paper is not as such opposed to methods, it does suggest that many actual research practices do not follow defined and regular plans as the terminology of methods inclines. However, rather than seeing the messiness as a bias to be eliminated, a more constructive approach is suggested. With the intention of inviting more creative and thought-provoking research within qualitative inquiry, three specific ‘messy’ research strategies are suggested in the paper. These are: 1) Searching for associations between actors, of both human and non-human kinds, 2) following the traces of many kinds of actors and 3) doing a theoretical re-working of materials. The overall suggestion is that these open-ended and flexible strategies allow for an innovative approach to the development of a qualitative psychology while also serving to trouble (at least for a moment) the current popularity of methods in research.

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