Interpretive research methodology: Broadening the dialogue

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Abstract

This article expands the dialogue on interpretive research methodology, locating this set of approaches within a broad historical and interdisciplinary context. Several of the most commonly held misconceptions in nursing, particularly those related to the meanings and derivations ascribed to “grounded theory,” “symbolic interactionism,” and “ethnography,” are examined. The interpretive research approaches not only have gained broader acceptance across disciplines, but also have shifted in more radical and often less structured directions during the past decade. Several pivotal areas of these ongoing shifts are analyzed for their relevance to nursing research: the influence of critical and feminist theory and postmodernism, the ambiguity inherent in both everyday life and the research enterprise, the importance of locating the researcher, power and status inequities, the problematic aspects of language, meaning, and representation, and the emphasis on reflexivity and context as constitutive of meaning.

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