Playing the power game for qualitative researchers: the possibility of a post-modern approach

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Abstract

Playing the power game for qualitative researchers:the possibility of a post-modern approach

The later work of Wittgenstein (1953) takes language and meaning as arising in use.A local 'grammar' is created. Ethical/research awarding committees have developed, and clashing, meanings about what constitutes 'good' research. The fixed rule language game of the committee is implicitly powerful because it is part of well-rehearsed societal narratives which equate science and knowledge. This creates a force on the qualitative researcher to conform to the authoritative grammar which it is difficult to counter. In these circumstances, qualitative researchers may choose to inhabit two, parallel research universes by 'storying' their research proposal according to the audience. But a question arises as to whether ethical approval has been gained when a 'Trojan horse' approach is used. Moving between worlds involves the researcher living with a dual identity. The postmodernist movement away from structure, form and singular truth is seen as setting a context for a new archaeology of knowledge which transcends good/bad dichotomies in relation to research. The qualitative researcher is encouraged to enter into dialogical communication with committees with the hope that a shared grammar may emerge.

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