Doubting the philosophical assumptions of interpretive research

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The philosophical assumptions that underpin interpretive research are seldom critically scrutinized in education literature. Yet interpretive research is a powerful shaper of knowledge about the world of lived experience, or as Van Manen puts it, “the lifeworld, which is both the source and the object of this framework” (1990, p. 53). This paper uses postmodern theories to explore the assumptions of interpretive research and to make explicit the grounds on which interpretive knowledge claims are made.Concerned with social interactions, interpretive research assumes that all human actions are meaningful.The interpretive production of meaning, however, warrants scrutiny as it rests heavily on the authenticity of the individual's subjective experience. Here, it is argued that authenticity and individual “agency” ought to be subject to greater levels of doubt than is currently the case.₩ 2009 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


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