Qualitative Research [entry]

The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies   unpublished
This entry provides an overview of qualitative LGBTQ research. It begins by mapping out the qualities and character of studies that use this approach with particular attention to psycho-social research. It then highlights how reflexivity, the iterative process of self-identity making, has informed qualitative research, influencing both understandings of sexualities and also the underlying methodologies and research methods used. Finally, it considers how "the everyday" and a practices approach
more » ... practices approach have generated significant insight on the materialities (lived experiences) and emotionality in qualitative research on LGBTQ lives. Approaches to Research Qualitative research is rich and illuminating, focusing attention on the micro-politics and personal dynamics of LGBTQ lives. It is, by its methodological nature, overridingly small scale and often structured around tightly defined cohorts characterized by age, parental status, relationship status and sexual practice, for example. This focus in qualitative research thus generates significant understanding of how LGBTQ lives are lived but generalizability remains limited. Indeed the design of small-scale empirical research does not have the capacity to speak to wider population trends or social attitudes. Instead, these qualitative studies are more aptly suited to advance understanding of individual and/or group experiences, situated in their social contexts. The specificity of findings is, therefore, the purpose of research rather than a limitation. The theoretical context and thus the driver for much early qualitative research design rests, in sociological terms, within Foucaudian ideas of power and the micro-politics of resistance that are exemplified in LGBT lives. Writing in the 1970s-1980s, Michael Foucault situated sexuality as the subject and product of discourse, with sexual identities being shaped through regulatory structures of governance that constituted personal understandings and articulations of sexuality. Disciplinary operations of power thus served to frame and often contain queer experience. The reflexive turn that followed is far more optimistic, arguably overly so. Anthony Giddens has been instrumental in this regard, suggesting that a recursive process of self-making characterizes the contemporary era of late modernity. His position is that through both the development of
doi:10.4135/9781483371283.n318 fatcat:mvecev5arjdm3apfyuadz4mgni