Re: post to R Adelman/ return reply

Rob Adelman (
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 15:17:41 -0500


Thanks so much for your thorough response. You have put me on to some
intriguing sources. Oh, and I had some suspicions about the phenomenology
thing all along.



From: Devi Jankowicz <>
Subject: Re: post to R Adelman/ return reply
Date: Saturday, July 19, 1997 6:01 PM

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) ŒContent analysis¹ 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) ŒThe repertory grid in action¹ 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
Perreault W.D. Jnr., & Leigh L.E. (1989) ŒReliability of nominal data based
on qualitative judgements¹ Journal of Marketing Research XXVI, May,
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) ŒKelly, Bannister, and a story-telling psychology¹
International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology 2 (1) 1-14.
Mair M. (1990) ŒTelling psychological tales¹ 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) ŒOrganisational storytelling: the struggles of
pre-modern, modern and postmodern organisational learning discourses¹
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

Aspinwall K. (1992) ŒBiographical research: searching for meaning¹
Management Education and Development 23, 3, 248-257.
Forster N. (1994) ŒThe analysis of company documentation¹ in Cassell C. &
Symon G. (eds.), Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research London:

with a Kellian twist to biographical analysis provided by
Jones H. (1992) ŒBiography in management and organisational development¹
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

>? 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) ŒIssues of validity in new paradigm research¹
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) ŒThe general and the unique in psychological science¹
in Reason P. & Rowan J. (eds.), Human Inquiry: a Sourcebook of New
Paradigm Research Chichester: Wiley,
Harré R. (1981) ŒThe positivist-empiricist approach and its alternative¹
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) ŒIn search of meaning: using qualitative methods in
research and application¹ 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,