Re: post to R Adelman/ return reply

Devi Jankowicz (
Sun, 20 Jul 97 00:01:37 +0100

Rob Adelman writes:

>Have you any references or examples of narrative or hermeneutic approaches
>to analysis of content?

Okay, here's some basic items.

Holsti O.R. (1968) =8CContent analysis=B9 in Lindzey G. & Aronson =
E. (eds.), The Handbook of Social Psychology London: Addison-Wesley
is the classic basic introduction to content analysis (though don't =
get tangled up in his account of differences between content and =
context units: an overfussy distinction, IMHO),
Honey P. (1977) =8CThe repertory grid in action=B9 Industrial and =
Commercial Training , 11, 452-459
is a very user-friendly account of content analysis which permits you =
to aggregate the meaning in several different grids, especially when =
the constructs were all elicited rather than supplied.

And, while we're on the subject of content analysis, it _is_ a =
process of subjective judgement, so you might want to check the =
reliability of your analysis:
Perreault W.D. Jnr., & Leigh L.E. (1989) =8CReliability of nominal =
data based on qualitative judgements=B9 Journal of Marketing =
Research XXVI, May, 135-148
is incredibly useful, and provides you with a reliability index which =
knocks spots off the usual procedure taught in most psychology =
courses, viz., Cohen's Kappa.

As for narrative approaches, a very interesting account of the =
rationale from the Kellian-constructivist perspective is given in two =
articles by Miller Mair, as follows:

Mair M. (1989) =8CKelly, Bannister, and a story-telling =
psychology=B9 International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology =
2 (1) 1-14.
Mair M. (1990) =8CTelling psychological tales=B9 International =
Journal of Personal Construct Psychology 3 (1) 121-135

and a very impassioned account, which stresses the political choices =
involved in publicly agreed (and therefore publicly verifiable!!!???) =
stories, is provided in
Boje D.M. (1994) =8COrganisational storytelling: the struggles of =
pre-modern, modern and postmodern organisational learning =
discourses=B9 Management Learning 25, 3, 433-461.

My own familiarity with hermeneutics is through biography, and you =
might find the following helpful as an introduction to one form of =
hermeneutic analysis

Aspinwall K. (1992) =8CBiographical research: searching for =
meaning=B9 Management Education and Development 23, 3, 248-257.
Forster N. (1994) =8CThe analysis of company documentation=B9 in =
Cassell C. & Symon G. (eds.), Qualitative Methods in Organizational =
Research London: Sage

with a Kellian twist to biographical analysis provided by
Jones H. (1992) =8CBiography in management and organisational =
development=B9 Management Education and Development 23, 3, 199-206.

Since I'm an organisational/occupational psychologist, many of these =
references are from the management/organisational literature: =
_please_ don't let that put you off! Because management is, according =
to current post-modern approaches, all about articulating and =
disseminating publicly shared meanings,a lot of the most interesting =
work, both theoretical and applied, finds its outlets in management =
and occupational-psychology journals.

>? Are we talking phenomenology in the latter?
The short answer is "yes"; the medium-length answer is "probably: to =
the extent that most personal construct psychologists would, if put =
up against a wall and forced to accept a rough-hewn epistemological =
taxonomy, admit to being phenomenologists... but then, not all of =
these references are taken from PCP"; the long answer is "er, it all =
depends on what your personal definition of phenomenology is; read =
Kelly's stuff and make up your own mind!" Perhaps the most helpful =
answer is to say that if you're using "phenomenology" as a =
convenient shorthand for "anything-but-positivism", then, "yes, yes, =
and yes" are the short, medium, and long answers!

>How do we know if our interpretations are valid when we use these =
The positivist responds: "we don't". The constructivist responds: =
"according to the same principles which underly _all_ enquiry, =
(constructivism or, if the positivists but knew it, positivism too!)".

If caught in a bad mood and suffering from a hangover, _I'd_ =
respond: "what a naive question"; in a more helpful spirit, I'd be =
really keen to put you on to the following reference:
Reason P., & Rowan J. (1981) =8CIssues of validity in new paradigm =
research=B9 in Reason P. & Rowan J. (eds.), Human Inquiry: a =
Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research Chichester: Wiley,
and strongly recommend other articles in the same collection, =
especially those by
Allport G.W. (1981) =8CThe general and the unique in psychological =
science=B9 in Reason P. & Rowan J. (eds.), Human Inquiry: a =
Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research Chichester: Wiley,
Harr=E9 R. (1981) =8CThe positivist-empiricist approach and its =
alternative=B9 in Reason P. & Rowan J. (eds.), Human Inquiry: a =
Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Finally, a good general (i.e. non-Kellian) rationale for all of this =
is in
Jones M.O. (1988) =8CIn search of meaning: using qualitative methods =
in research and application=B9 in Jones M.O., Moore M.D. & Snyder =
R.C. (eds.), Inside Organisations: Understanding the Human Dimension =
London: Sage.

As for techniques, I imagine you're familiar with the various texts =
on repertory grid and self-characterisation technique; for a =
non-Kellian compilation, try
Miles M.B., & Huberman A.M. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: an =
Expanded Sourcebook London: Sage.

>I have a sister living in the UK. How's the weather over there?
Unusually clement up here in the north-east: warm enough to sit =
outdoors in the twilight for hours, digesting a barbecue and =
finishing off the odd bottle of wine or three!

Kindest regards,