Sunday, 19 July 2015

Cultures of Inquiry and Me

Over the last two weeks, as part of the Introduction to Research course, I have been orienting myself with the cultures of inquiry as explained in Mindful Inquiry in Social Research.   The process of creating the required infographic allowed me to begin to understand the distinct epistemological assumptions of the various cultures of inquiry and how they can complement each other, offering different aspects on which to build meaning.  

As I initially read through Mindful Inquiry in Social Research, I created a table for each culture of inquiry, making notes regarding the types of concerns that each inquiry addressed, the epistemological assumptions, and the relationship between the researcher and the research.  I colour coded my information and then proceeded to deconstruct it and reorganize it, identifying patterns and aspects that resonated with me.   I am a very visual learner, so this process was effective and I was excited to discover the connections and how I could relate to some inquiries more than others.   

Phot by Lori Kemp (Lori's kitchen)
There were four inquiries that I was initially drawn to: hermeneutic inquiry, phenomenological inquiry, comparative-historical inquiry, and ethnographic inquiry.  Each of these cultures demands a degree of empathy from the researcher, with varying degrees of engagement with the subject.  I also could see how the nature of these inquiries could move in and out of one another, at times providing a foundation of knowledge from which to build upon, and other times potentially revealing a different perspective to meaning. For example, hermeneutic inquiry involves the interpretation of textual and non-textual information.  It is often essential to interpret information, before moving deeper into another culture of inquiry.  Hermeneutic inquiry has the potential for supporting many of the other cultures of inquiry.  Ethnographic inquiry involves the study of people and cultures.  In order to understand the lives of another culture, it may be beneficial to spend some time in comparative-historical inquiry, identifying patterns that may contribute to the ethnographic research. 

Bentz and Shapiro (1998) described the concept of using several cultures of inquiry within a particular project as triangulated research design, where researchers use different methods, traditions and techniques at different levels.  Comparatively, they also described the spiral of mindful inquiry as a motion of knowledge, progressing around a spiral and through different cultures of inquiry, while expanding and moving forward.  In both of these concepts, the researcher is at the centre of the research.   

I was inspired to see the correlation between the various cultures of inquiry and although my reflection focused specifically on the four inquiries of hermeneutics, phenomenology, comparative-historical inquiry and ethnographics, I look forward to further exploration, reflection and discovery.

Infographic - Cultures of Inquiry Reflection - Lori Kemp

Bent,V.M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

1 comment:

  1. Your infrographic is beautiful. I'm glad we were paired so I could take a look at it. I think that the process of creating a graphic around this material helped with understanding. It is heavy, but the more we work with it, the more concrete it becomes.