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Participant Agreement in the Justification of Qualitative Findings

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Qualitative research carried out within human science must provide justification for its findings. However, the justification of empirical claims concerning human meanings has to be approached in new ways: Quantitative procedures of validation or the use of experimental control are inappropriate. Many researchers have attempted to follow Schutz's (1962) ''postulate of adequacy," which lays down as a condition of acceptability of a scientific account of human action that it be understandable by the actor in terms of commonsense interpretation of everyday life. For instance, Harré (1978) suggests "validating" descriptions by ensuring that subjects of the research approve them. Against this approach, it is insisted that human science research is essentially an interpersonal process, and that therefore research activities cannot avoid such Goffmanesque features of self-presentation as resistance to being understood and eager acceptance of understanding, which are both pervasive possibilities of all social interaction. Thus, the research participant's agreement or disagreement cannot be taken as evidence as to the adequacy of a qualitative research description or interpretation.

Affiliations: 1: Sheffield City Polytechnic


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