Toward a Methodology of Chance: On Obstacles to Research and Their Advantages

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This article presents an argument about the advantages of embracing obstacles that arise while conducting research. Through analysis of specific obstacles encountered during research on family caregiving for Alzheimer’s disease in Oaxaca, Mexico, this article makes a case for what is termed methodological agility, an approach for how qualitative inquiry invites the use of research instruments to accommodate to the contingencies of a given field site. In Oaxaca, methods inspired by focus group interviewing and constructivist theory were engendered to respond to cultural and linguistic obstacles encountered during the collection of data and an underlying epistemological dilemma. In so doing, this article illustrates how the unique obstacles to conducting research are advantages in themselves, opportunities for researchers to strengthen methodological rigor by directly addressing, embracing, and resolving the broader structures that contextualize the data they seek to acquire.

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