Working in Interpretive Modes
DOI link for Working in Interpretive Modes
Working in Interpretive Modes book
Much attention has been devoted in the literature to the earlier stages of a research project-to negotiating entree, to relating with participants, to gathering ‘thick description,’ and to designing various approaches to data analysis; less attention has been devoted to the interpretive processes of qualitative research. When, however, James L.Peacock set out to explain what it is that anthropologists ‘do’ in his monograph The Anthropological Lens (1986), he highlighted the interpretive aspect:
Ethnography is an interpretive endeavor, and the most treasured ethnographic interpretations provide not only substantive information but perspectives on that information. It is not the particular factual ‘findings’ of a gifted ethnographer…that are significant…What is significant is the vision of someone’s (the native’s) existence interpreted through the sensibilities of someone else (the ethnographer) in order to inform and enrich the understanding of a third party (the reader or listener). (pp. 99100)
In this chapter we focus on how the writing reveals an interpretation as filtered through your own sensibilities and theoretical perspectives. As interpreters we could be likened to filters through which we sift data in the process of making meaning. This is how Ori Caroleo described working in interpretive modes as he crafted the final chapters of his dissertation:
I found the process of writing to be something like pouring the data/themes through a series of strainers, where each strainer has smaller holes. The result of this straining process is a more meaningful, rich-tasting presentation of the data.