chapter  1
18 Pages

Qualitative Research in the Applied Disciplines

THEORIZING AND APPLICATION Many years ago I had the experience of engaging in a week-long intensive workshop with a group of academics, composed roughly equally of social scientists and health professional researchers. Although everyone was highly enthusiastic about the topic of discussion (as it happened, the confl uence of genetics and ethics), fundamental schisms began to form quite early in the week between the two groups, such that by the end of our time together there seemed an insurmountable barrier to understanding. Essentially, for the clinician researchers, the entire point of questing for knowledge was to apply it to real human beings caught in complex and diffi cult human health problems so that their quality of life could be improved in some manner. For the social scientists, the point of knowledge development was theorizing, and it was anathema to them that people would put their ideas to use prematurely. While I fully recognize that many clinicians theorize and many social scientists do applied work, it seemed that the extreme situation of working together so closely on this particular topic had revealed a polarizing tendency that I had not previously appreciated in its full blossom. While that singular episode is not representative of so many of the vibrant interdisciplinary collaborations I have been party to before or since, the underlying problem stayed with me, and the insights arising from it began to feature in my own applications of research method.