Let’s Talk Post-qualitative Inquiry

As researchers we inevitably work within a set of norms that have been built by other researchers before us, using the vocabulary they formed, and the methods they refined. As more and more refinements are made, and a more and more specific set of norms is established, the accepted ‘ways’ of doing research become increasingly narrow.

Some theorists in the humanities and social sciences interested in new empirical and new material work are thinking about ways of disrupting these norms. The sets of ideas often prefixed by the word ‘post-’ reflect these ongoing shifts: post-structuralism; post-humanism; post-constructionism; and now, post-qualitative inquiry.

Post-qualitative inquiry is all about shaking up the ways we do research and questioning assumptions to enable new ontological research approaches to emerge. Elizabeth St. Pierre, who ‘created’ post-qualitative inquiry, explains why she thinks ways of doing research need rethinking:

We’ve structured, formalized, and normalized [qualitative methodology] so that most studies look the same. The “process” is the same: identify a research question, design a study, interview, observe, analyze data, and write it up. We can just drop a researcher down into that pre-given process and they know what to do, and we can pretty much predict what will come out.

Elizabeth St. Pierre quoted in Guttorm, Hohti, & Paakkari (2015).

Opening up the processes of doing research differently – doing ‘new’ work – means undoing (or forgetting) a lot of the assumptions we work with and take for granted. This includes thinking about / with ontology rather than prioritising epistemology, and exploring means in which to bring in the material and de-centre the human.

A new cross-disciplinary group is getting together on the AUT Akoranga campus to start some conversations and shared readings in these areas. The first meeting will be on Tuesday 16 April at 8:30am at the Garden Shed (not far from the library). You can view the flyer here:

If you’d like to learn more, contact Janita Craw (janita.craw@aut.ac.nz) or Kate Waterworth (kate.waterworth@aut.ac.nz).


Guttorm, H., Hohti, R., & Paakkari, A. (2015). “Do the next thing”: An interview with Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre on post-qualitative methodology. Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology, 6(1).

Further Reading:

St. Pierre, E. A. (2019). Post qualitative inquiry in an ontology of immanence. Qualitative Inquiry, 25(1), 3-16. DOI: 10.1177/1077800418772634

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