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SQIP 2013 Conference

Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology

The Graduate Center, CUNY

November 14 and 15, 2013

in collaboration with our co-sponsoring organizations:
Public Science Project, Oxford University Press, New York University Press, Guilford Press, Fielding Graduate University, College of the Holy Cross, Psychology at the Graduate Center CUNY, New School Psychology Department, and Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (APA Division 24)
Conference Collective: Michelle Fine, the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Jason Van Ora, Kingsborough Community College, Co-Directors; Maria Elena Torre, Director of Public Science Project; Jared Becker, Administrator, Center for Human Environments; Valerie Futch, University of Virginia; Johan Melchior and Patrick Sweeney, Critical Psychology doctoral students; and Mary Beth Morrissey, Fordham University.

Thursday, November 14: Skylight Room

5:00 – 7:00 pm

Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology Past, Present and Future

  • Ken Gergen, Ruthellen Josselson, Mark Freeman, Fred Wertz, Marco Gemignani, and Valerie Futch; Moderated by Michelle Fine

(Overflow room: 6304.01 – with popcorn and wine!)

7:00 – 8: 30 pm


Friday, November 15: Four Sessions

Session 1: 9:30 – 11:00 am

1A. The Listening Guide: A Method of Narrative Analysis

  • Lyn Mikel Brown (Colby College), Brian Davis (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Carol Gilligan (New York University), and Deborah Tolman (The Graduate Center, CUNY) (chair: Deborah Tolman)

  • The Listening Guide is a systematic method of analyzing narratives qualitatively. Anchored in feminist (and increasingly queer) phenomenological, narrative and psychodynamic approaches to listening and developing interpretations of people’s lived experience, often in the contexts of navigating interpersonal relationships in recognized social/societal/community contexts, the LG was developed as a response to the inability of categorical analyses to retain salient dimensions of data. The panelists will cover the history and development of the LG, basic tenets of the method, as well as current usages of it in answering a variety of research questions, with a focus on gender, sexuality, and various types of interpersonal relationships. Panelists will discuss how they have used and adapted the principles and practices of the LG in their own research and with their own data from several different research programs.

1B. Historical Narratives and Collective Memories

  • Susan Opotow (John Jay/Graduate Center, CUNY), Katherine Carl (The Graduate Center, CUNY), and Fran Cherry (Carleton University). The James Gallery.

  • This workshop examines uses of historical methods and perspectives for psychological theorizing and methods that can bring an historical sensibility to our understanding and analysis of qualitative material. In the first part of the workshop, the three organizers will describe our work with historical material that asks questions about changes that have occurred over time and offers critical perspectives on the present. We will describe: 1) how history, as exhibited in museums, can speak to theories of injustice; 2) what cities in transition and visual culture can teach us about history, and 3) how we can historicize our research, and in so doing, derive new theoretical perspectives. This workshop will meet in the James Gallery at the Graduate Center and will include some work with historical materials and group discussion.

1C. Studying Place

  • Susan Saegert (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Setha Low (Graduate Center, CUNY), Cindi Katz, Roger Hart

  • This panel will discuss the significance of “placing” the subject of and participants in qualitative research. Each speaker will describe a particular interdisciplinary approach to studying place. Susan Saegert: This presentation will explore the implications of Pragmatist philosophy for social inquiry, especially for the significance of transactions as Dewey puts it, “across and among skins.” Places situate both the researcher and the phenomena being studied. The material time/space of a place enables, constrains and enlightens inquiry. Embodied subjects transact at many non-verbal levels with the researcher, others in their place and the material world. When we miss this dimension, we often misinterpret or at least severely constrain what we as researchers can know about the subject, the people we study, and ourselves as inquirers. Participatory Research (with or without Action), ethnography, observation and visual methods all contribute to “placing” the subject of inquiry. Cindi Katz: I will draw on my notion of countertopography to address the study of disparate places connected analytically by virtue of their relationships to particular political economic, social, or environmental processes such as dispossession or deskilling. My presentation will review some qualitative methods for developing thick descriptions of particular places, and suggest some ‘contour lines’ that might be drawn among sites as means to reveal what might be hidden in single site studies and suggest alternative political mobilizations across space and place. I will draw on some of the work associated with an ongoing collaborative project—the New York City Geographical Expedition and Institute–to look particularly at methods associated with neighborhood mapping and the collection of building histories and environmental autobiographies. Setha Low: I will explore the critical potential of the ethnography of space and place. By examining an embodied methodology that includes the body as a spatial temporal field within more traditional methods such as participant observation, interviewing, and behavioral mapping, a new sense of power and agency emerges. I argue that the importance of such an embodied approach expands the ability of the ethnography of space and place to reveal structures and affective landscapes of inequality and social exclusion. Roger Hart: This paper will discuss the challenges of understanding children’s experience of space and place and making this knowledge useful. I will illustrate the talk with material from studies, conducted by myself and colleagues, in a variety of different settings and with children ranging in age from three to adolescence.

11:00 – 11:30 Break

Session 2: 11:30 – 1:00 pm

2A. Critical Qualitative Methods for Producing Knowledge with Social Media

  • Greg Donovan (Saint Peter’s University), Joan Greenbaum (CUNY) and Regina Tuma (Fielding Graduate University)

  • This session critically considers social media as a mode of qualitative inquiry with capacities for producing diverse bodies of knowledge. As corporate media services like Twitter and Facebook produce seemingly dominant knowledges on everyday life, who has access to the data and methods entailed in this proprietary research significantly shapes the politics of the knowledge produced. This session will introduce participants to the possibilities and perils of social media in critical qualitative inquiry with specific attention paid to the design, intention, and broader significance of proprietary and participatory media models for research possibilities in psychology. Participants will learn how to critically consider what social media can bring to the table in their own research as well as what should be left on the table.

2B. Highlighting the Social in Narrative Inquiry

  • Marco Gemignani (Duquesne University) and Colette Daiute (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

  • Many researchers define narrative as a social process, so it is time to take some of the mystery out of how social processes are enacted in narrative analysis. Toward that end, this session focuses on several ways to work the social nature of narrative for research in the human sciences. After a brief introduction, we focus on two social dynamics researchers can use to deepen their methods of narrative inquiry design and analysis. One social relation we address is participant-context interaction, with research designs open to relational voices among participants and with their material/symbolic environments (Daiute, 2010; 2013). The other social relation is researcher-participant interaction, with counter-transference, relational constructions of memories, and the implications of these processes for research and knowledge (Gemignani, 2011; 2014). Referring to these focused social practices, the group at this session will also have the opportunity to work with a rich example from prior narrative inquiry and to discuss the relevance to their research projects.

2C. Art, Performance, and Media in Participatory Research: From Analysis to Presentation

  • Caitlin Cahill (Pratt Institute), Hillary Caldwell (Graduate Center, CUNY), Madeline Fox (Graduate Center, CUNY), Mary Gergen (Penn State University, Brandywine) & David Quijada (St. Mary’s College of California)

  • How might the arts push qualitative scholarship in new directions? Panelists will share projects that engage the arts as integral to the research process: from framing the questions to be investigated, collecting data, engaging in analysis, to presentation of findings to diverse audiences. In each of our projects we will discuss how the arts create new spaces beyond language to communicate and represent social issues that affect our lives, expand the potential for knowledge production, and at the same time amplify our outreach to broader publics as part of our commitments to action and research “beyond the journal article.” Mary will profile her development as a performative social scientist, and highlight the diverse topics that engaged her in her efforts to enlarge the scope of representations through performance. Caitlin will discuss critical ethical dilemmas raised in the process of making Red Flags, a participatory video documentary project focused on issues of racism and educational injustice, produced by youth researchers in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hillary will talk about ongoing participatory action research projects in NYC that are using the arts to create critical community encounters, fostering dialogue and cooperation around gentrification and unjust policing, structural issues that pose difficulties to collective organizing as they are experienced personally and close to home, and differently across groups and neighborhoods. Maddy will share key insights from Polling for Justice, a large-scale multi-generational participatory action research project that utilized a qualitative, embodied, artistic approach to analyzing mostly quantitative data on youth experiences of neo-liberal public policy. David will discuss how the Mestizo Arts and Activism Collective strategically developed creative participatory action research products (blogs, public forums, art, demonstration) to inform different audiences about their rights in Salt Lake City, Utah – a state known for unfair (and racist) institutional and legislative immigration policies.

2D. Race and Culture and Qualitative Inquiry

  • Tamara R. Buckley (The Graduate Center and Hunter College, CUNY), Joseph P. Gone (University of Michigan), Lisa A. Suzuki (New York University)

  • Qualitative methods have a long and complicated history with communities of color. For years psychologists of color shied away from these approaches that often reproduced stereotypic portrayals of people of color. Today, as psychologists interested in both documenting and supporting communities of color, diverse organizations and schools, we are returning to qualitative methods, critical reflexivity and more contextual approaches to social inquiry. In this panel we present our work with a particular focus on the delicacies of addressing race and ethnicity when we are members of these communities and, even more so, when we are not. Foldy and Buckley’s book explores how racially diverse teams of child welfare workers address race and ethnicity in their day-to-day work. In this session, Buckley will describe their interracial (black/white) research team and the challenges and contradictions that surfaced as they made sense of a three-year data set of child welfare workers racial/cultural practices. She draws parallels between the researcher and “informant” teams and suggests several elements such as, identity safety, psychological safety, and learning behaviors, for enabling conversations about race and culture that are honest and generative. Gone will describe an interview-based project designed to understand cultural identity among the elder generation of his own American Indian tribal community. To this end, he approached many Gros Ventre elders, only a handful of whom agreed to participate. Interestingly, as a consequence of local sociolinguistic norms, Gone’s richest interview material was recorded from his own grandmother. But how might interviews from a single respondent afford generalization to broader claims about collective Gros Ventre identity? Gone has proposed a method known as the Ethnographically Contextualized Case Study as a remedy to this problem. Suzuki will highlight her personal process of reflexivity as it unfolded in conducting qualitative research as an outsider to the communities under study — i.e., unaccompanied Cuban refugee children and Holocaust survivors. Reflecting upon assumptions, preconceptions, and their role in making research decisions beginning with the formulation of the study itself to the interpretation of the qualitative data will be highlighted. Understanding the importance of relationship with members of the community (informants), building of cultural bridges, and the importance of continual examination of the relationship dynamics will be addressed.

Lunch: 1:00 – 2:30 pm

(On your own)

Session 3: 2:30 – 4:00 pm

3A. Publish or Perish Redux: Contexts and Dilemmas in Publishing Qualitative Work

  • Virginia Braun (The University of Auckland), Nicola Gavey (The University of Auckland), Jeanne Marecek (Swarthmore College), and Corinne Squire (University of East London)

  • Alongside the neoliberal imperative to produce publications in large quantity has come a dramatic reduction in public funding for universities. Together, these give a new and dire meaning to the mandate ‘publish or perish.’ What does this mean for psychologists who do qualitative research – especially that informed by critical theory, politically engaged activism, or non-realist epistemologies? Such work is at odds with mainstream expectations and thus there are barriers to publishing in mainstream journals. Two recent publications give stark evidence for this: One is a ‘gate-keeping’ editorial that sharply limits acceptable ‘qualitative’ research practice and product; the other is a review paper that endorses something called “quantified qualitative research,” while brushing aside all other forms of qualitative work. What do dicta like these mean for our practice? We bring to these questions our experience as qualitative researchers, writers of qualitative research guides, and journal editors. We explore the tensions and dilemmas for psychologists whose work defies disciplinary strictures but who must ‘play the game’ in order to have a career in academia. We hope to open a free-ranging discussion of the pleasures, dangers, and necessity of doing things differently in the current academic context or stepping beyond it. We will also put forward some proposals for how networks and organizations for qualitative/critical psychology (such as SQIP) could address these issues. Virginia Braun will discuss the intersection of qualitative methods with critical psychology movements, non-realist epistemologies, and politically grounded, activist psychologies – with an orientation to the particular dilemmas facing researchers when they seek to publish their work. Nicola Gavey will discuss how qualitative researchers can find ourselves pressed into production line science. Is it possible for individual scholars to refuse this McDonaldization of our scholarly work, or must we find a collective voice to advocate for Slow Science and Public Science and lend weight to a radical rethinking of the markers of value (and waste)? Jeanne Marecek will speak about the “assumed asymmetries” of value and the “erasures of difference” that qualitative/critical psychologists encounter when they seek to ‘push into’ mainstream journals. Mainstream reviewers often demand changes in their work that introduce elements that are misleading and even nonsensical. How can qualitative researchers make their work visible in the mainstream of psychology without vitiating it? Corinne Squire will look at the marketisation of qualitative research in austerity times, via ‘business case’ framings and emphases on citation, ‘impact’, ‘legacy’, and ‘audit’. She will discuss the possible effects of transdisciplinary, community-based, and open-access qualitative research, and such research’s limitations, including resorption into marketised knowledge economies.

3B. X Marks the Spot: Exploring the Juncture of Geography, Justice, and Critical Psychology through Mapping Methods

  • Valerie Futch (University of Virginia), Jen Jack Gieseking (Bowdoin College), Einat Manoff (Graduate Center, CUNY)

  • Maps provide visual representations of space and place, both real and imagined, physical and virtual. They tell stories, document environments, organize information, and serve as guides for curious explorers. Maps range from geographic to personal, mapping physical spaces or imagined selves. But how can maps be used critically within psychology, and how can a psychological perspective infuse the work of cartographers today? What is their methodological promise, particularly in the work of combatting inequality, produce counter-narratives, and both sprout and evoke resistance? The three presenters in this panel each use mapping in different ways to address these critical disciplinary and methodological questions. Each presenter will propose a critical question and show how mapping has helped them understand the question, drawing on techniques ranging from identity mapping to counter-mapping, from mental mapping to the geoweb. Grounded in a history of critical social and environmental psychology, the presenters explore how mapping is a participatory method that draws on a rich history of psychological thought and offers new ways of exploring the experiences of individuals, groups, and communities. Participants will be asked to brainstorm a critical disciplinary/research and/or methodological question at the start of the session. After the talks, participants will be asked to reflect on how mapping might aid them in answering these questions. Time will be allowed for individual questions/concerns/queries to be discussed with both presenters and audience.

3C. Narrative and Social Policy: Narrative as Evidence/Evidence as Narrative

  • David Frost (Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health), Sara McClelland (University of Michigan) and Bill Cross (University of Denver)

  • In this workshop, we’ll discuss several issues to consider and provocative examples of the employment of narrative methods in research agendas that aim to inform and/or influence public policy making. We will address three key moments in the development and implementation of policy-relevant narrative projects: Theoretical development, project design, and impact/dissemination. Taking up the question of theoretical development, we’ll discuss a model we’ve developed that offers a way to think and raise critical questions about policies that affect sex and sexuality. Taking up the question of project design, we’ll discuss a study of same-sex relationships and how policy-related concerns shaped the implementation of a unique narrative interview protocol. Finally, taking up the question of impact and audience, we describe the foundations for framing narrative as evidence (and evidence as narrative). Toward this end, we’ll provide several examples from contributions to a recent special issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy focused on narrative research and sexuality-related social policy.

3D. Qualitative Inquiry and the Unconscious: A Look into the Experience of Mental Health Professionals

  • Markus Brunner, Julia König and Katharina Rothe

  • In our workshop we will introduce psychoanalytic methods in qualitative psychosocial research. By letting research material resonate with the emotions of the researchers and systematically reflecting upon them, a psychoanalytic approach can grasp meanings that are beyond what is communicated at the level of language and illuminate unconscious dynamics and defense formations in interpersonal interactions. We will demonstrate this approach by analyzing excerpts from a focus group together with the participants of the workshop. The transcript and first findings of an inquiry into the experience of mental health professionals working with persons diagnosed as psychotic will be presented. Focus groups with the mental health professionals are conducted and analyzed by means of psychoanalytic methods. Overall aims of the study are: 1) comparing the narratives of the professionals in different psychiatric settings with regard to contrasting concepts of treatment (between the poles of ‘traditional psychiatry’ and ‘antipsychiatrically influenced institutions’), 2) exploring if there are institutional practices (possible) that allow a way to break through (internalized) stigma and stigmatizations, without reenacting ‘psychotic dynamics’. Linking psychoanalysis with institutional analysis we draw upon the concept of “institutionalized defense” (Mentzos 1976, Leuschner 2001). Objectifying perspectives and processes of stigmatization and othering can be seen as institutionalized defense mechanisms against psychotic dynamics and anxieties they produce. Participants will gain insight into a psychoanalytic approach in psychosocial research that uses the analysis of affective responses as another level of data. Participants will understand the concept of “institutionalized defense”.

4:00 – 4:30 Break

Session 4: 4:30 – 6:00 pm

4A. Morris Justice: Community-based Solidarity Research on Aggressive and Discriminatory Policing

  • Brett Stoudt, María Elena Torre, Jackie Yates, Fawn Bracy, Prakriti Hassan, Scott Lizama, Einat Manoff, Andrew Cory Greene, Nadine Shephard, Hillary Caldwell, and Freddy Novoa

  • Designed as a critical PAR project, Morris Justice brought a diverse team of community members (ages 16-80) from a 40-block neighborhood in the South Bronx with disproportionately high rates of police contact and police incidents that included the use of physical force, together with CUNY faculty, students, and Pace University lawyers. Deeply concerned about police practices, we came together in solidarity to document and challenge current policing policies including the controversial practice of “stop and frisk” that has targeted young men of color throughout New York City. Meeting bi-weekly in the local library, our PAR collective developed and distributed a survey to over 1,000 residents, conducted focus groups and interviews, and provided on-going legal services. Our research is the first large-scale, locally-rooted study of New York policing policies from the perspective of those targeted by them. Using “stats-in-action” and other participatory analysis techniques, our collective analysis demonstrated a dramatic set of “normalized conditions” that are, in fact, violations of residents’ civil rights. As a team, the force of our study has been two-fold. First and foremost we have been able to document the collateral costs – social psychological and material – of day-to-day living in a police state. Equally important, however, has been the power of how the research process and findings have become what Martín-Baró (1994) called a “social mirror” – reflecting back data and experiences that are no longer individual, personal, or idiosyncratic. From charts and maps, to chalking sidewalks, printing data tshirts, and producing community photo walls, our collective has used traditional, creative, and grass-roots methods to engage ongoing community analysis of the data and ignite public conversations about structural inequalities in small groups on street corners all over the neighborhood. In addition, we have worked closely with organizers, lawyers, and policy makers to move our locally-produced findings beyond our neighborhood to inform and support city-wide police reform. Our experiences thus far have demonstrated the possibilities of critical participatory research within psychology – a practice of solidarity in which communities traditionally researched and spoken for, ask their own questions and conduct studies, alone and in partnership with academics to speak back and determine their own destinies as well as engage the struggle for a more just world.

4B. Collaborative Seeing: Constructing Validity in Visual Research

  • Wendy Luttrell (The Graduate Center, CUNY), David Chapin, Caro Munoz-Proto and possibly other members of the Collaborative Seeing Studio

  • This panel addresses the demands of considering context, reflexivity, co-construction, and multiple truths in claims we make while doing visual research. We will review some of the criteria for establishing validity and reliability, including historical truth, correspondence, coherence, and the ethical and political use of visual images. The format will be multimodal and feature a variety of types of visual data, including photography, video, emergent digital forms like digital archiving, and a particular form of “visual narrative” analysis employed by members of the Collaborative Seeing Studio ( We will describe strategies we use to make our work credible without falling in the trap of aping hypothesis-testing notions of scientific rigor. We will argue that the validity of visual research lies in its ability to a) provide “situated interpretations” rather than “facts”; and b) foster social change by putting research participants in charge of their images and image-making.

4C. Workshop: Doing Phenomenological Analysis in Psychology

  • Fred Wertz (Fordham University) and Josh Clegg (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

  • Experiences of Persons with Schizophrenia in a Community with Aftercare: The purposes of this 2-hour workshop are to introduce psychologists to the basic concepts of phenomenology; to familiarize participants with the fundamental procedures of descriptive psychological analysis; and to provide a hands-on practice in performing phenomenological reflection on psychopathological experience and recovery. Workshop participants will receive a workbook that includes summaries of basic concepts and methods of research, a brief history of the phenomenological movement, a selected bibliography, a sample description of experience, several examples of phenomenological psychological reflections, and a delineation of the steps of analysis with space where participants can record their analytic practices. The topic will be the experience of schizophrenic persons living in a community with aftercare. After a brief presentation on phenomenology, the participants will be introduced to Amedeo Giorgi’s procedures of phenomenological psychological analysis and will then practice them with one narrative description offered by a schizophrenic research subject of the situations that were lived through by that person. The sample description is drawn from an interview undertaken in Professor Larry Davidson’s action research program at the Yale University Medical School in New Haven, CT. Participants’ task will be to clarify the psychology of a person with schizophrenia attempting recovery in the community. This analysis will aim to help persons with schizophrenia in their attempts to live well outside hospital inpatient settings. Workshop participants will record, share, and discuss their reflections, conclusions, and experiences practicing phenomenological psychological analysis.

Reception – Graduate Center 6th floor

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