Qualitative Sociology Review | Vol. 18 No. 4

Opublikowano: 28 listopada 2022

Zapraszamy do lektury ostatniego w tym roku numeru “Qualitative Sociology Review”. Czasopismo jest anglojęzycznym kwartalnikiem Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, który podobnie jak “Przegląd Socjologii Jakościowej” podejmuje refleksję nad jakościową i interpretatywną drogą uprawiania socjologii. Redakcja dąży do współpracy, integracji i rozwoju środowiska naukowego, a swoją inicjatywę podejmuje w imię wartości takich jak indywidualność, równość, tolerancja, społeczność, nauka, ludzkość. Motywem przewodnim najnowszego numeru stały się niebadane dotąd w ujęciu jakościowym rzeczywistości.

W numerze:

Quali(a)tative Methods: Sense-Based Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

David Howes

This paper begins by tracing the sensory turn in the human sciences—most notably, history and anthropology—which, in turn, gave rise to the interdisciplinary field of sensory studies. The latter field is articulated around the concept of the sensorium (defined as the entire sensory apparatus, including the extension of the senses via diverse media, as an operational complex) and the notion of qualia (defined as those aspects of the material world, such as color and sound, that are contingent on the human perceptual apparatus—in contrast to the inherent or elementary properties of materials, such as number or form, which are not).

Sense-based research in the human sciences is tied to sensing and making sense together with others. Its methodology of choice is sensory ethnography, or “participant sensation.” This method departs from the emphasis on observation in conventional qualitative research, as well as the latter’s reliance on such verbocentric methods as the questionnaire or focus group. Sensory ethnography highlights the primacy of the quali(a)tative dimensions of our being together in society. It extrapolates on Georg Simmel’s point: “That we get involved in interactions at all depends on the fact that we have a sensory effect upon one another” (as cited in Howes 2013).

In part II of this paper, a critique is presented of the diminution of the quali(a)tative in the context of the Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the cognitive revolution of the mid-twentieth century, and the scientization of the senses in the Sensory Evaluation Research Laboratory. These revolutions are problematized for their lopsidedness: the privileging of the infrasensible over the sensible and elemental (or atomistic) over the phenomenal in the case of the Scientific Revolution; the neuronal over the sensual and social in the case of the cognitive revolution; and, the unimodal (or one-sensation- and one-sense-at-a-time) over the multimodal, as well as the reduction of “significance” to the statistical, in the case of the research protocols of the sensory science laboratory. The paper concludes by presenting the results of a series of case studies in sensory ethnography that push the bounds of sense by leading with the senses and bringing the quali(a)tative back in.

Sensual Construction of Body and Biography. Suggestions to Mutually Improve Deficient but Widespread Body Concepts and Biographical Research

Wolfram Fischer

Against the backdrop of an increasing interest in visual methods in social research, this paper examines some theoretical foundations of human (inter-)action by reflecting on the interplay between senses, the body, and biography. The main purpose of the paper is to combine an integral, non-Cartesian concept of the self as body (respectively the lived body as self) with biographical research—thus enriching research on the body, as well as on biography. Criticizing the Cartesian split of body and mind, classical phenomenological (Leib) and recent concepts of the body (“embodiment”) are sketched, resulting in a processual model of the sensual construction of the lived and living body in its environment. Given the interplay of bodily foundations of the self and processes of biographical structuring, so far, distant fields of research are converged. Some suggestions for conceptual improvements, an attentional shift to body aspects, respective research topics, and the extension of methods exceeding the narrative biographical interview in biographical research are indicated.

The Social Transformation of Self-Injury

Patricia A. Adler, Peter Adler

This research offers a description and analysis of the relatively hidden practice of self-injury: cutting, burning, branding, and bone breaking. Drawing on over 150 in-depth interviews and tens of thousands of website postings, e-mail communications, and Internet groups, we challenge the psycho-medical depiction of this phenomenon and discuss ways that the contemporary sociological practice of self-injury has evolved to challenge images of the population, etiology, practice, and social meanings associated with this behavior. We conclude by suggesting that self-injury, for some, is in the process of undergoing a moral passage from the realm of medicalized to voluntarily chosen deviant behavior in which participants’ actions may be understood with a greater understanding of the sociological factors that contribute to the prevalence of these actions.

Healthcare Information Technology’s Relativity Challenges: Distortions Created by Patients’ Physical Reality versus Clinicians’ Mental Models and Healthcare Electronic Records

Ross Koppel

This paper examines the inconsistencies or distortions among three medical realities: patients’ physical reality (as reflected in clinical observations, lab reports, and other “objective” measures); clinicians’ mental models of patients’ conditions; and how that information is represented in the patient’s electronic chart—the electronic health record (EHR). We created a typology based on the semiotic triangle of “symbol,” “thought or reference,” and “referent.”

Differing perspectives (or realities) are illustrated with examples from our observations in hospitals and medical facilities, interviews with clinicians, IT personnel and IT vendors, computer logs, and error reports.

Scenarios/models enumerate how the differing perspectives can misalign to produce distortions in comprehension and treatment. These are categorized according to an emergent typology derived from the cases themselves and refined based on insights gained from the literature on interactive sociotechnical systems analysis, decision support science, and human-computer interaction.

The scenarios reflect the misalignment between patients’ physical realities, clinicians’ mental models, and EHRs, identifying five types of misrepresentation: IT data too narrowly focused; IT data too broadly focused; EHRs miss critical reality; data multiplicities—perhaps contradictory or confusing; distortions from data reflected back and forth across users, sensors, and others.

Conclusion: With humans, there is a physical reality and actors’ mental models of that reality. In healthcare, there is another player: the EHR/healthcare IT, which implicitly and explicitly reflects many mental models, facets of reality, and measures thereof that vary in reliability and consistency. EHRs are both microcosms and shapers of medical care.

Is Homicide a Turning Point in the Life of Perpetrators? A Narrative Analysis of the Life Stories of Marginalized and Middle-Class Male Homicide Offenders in Metropolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina

Martín Hernán Di Marco

This paper aims to analyze the relevance given to violent deaths and imprisonment by male homicide perpetrators in their biographical reconstructions. Drawing on narrative criminology, this study examines the offenders’ emic terms, rationalities, and stories. The analysis is based on seventy-three purposefully selected narrative-biographical interviews and field observations in prisons and homes of former convicts (2016-2020) in Metropolitan Buenos Aires, Argentina. The corpus was analyzed following an inductive thematic coding strategy using ATLAS.ti. Three central narratives about homicide and incarceration emerged: “opportunity,” “rock bottom,” and “disruptive.” For most, homicide was described as a biographical opportunity to rethink their lives, pursue new pathways, and “stabilize” a previously uncontrolled lifestyle. However, homicides perpetrated by respondents with higher socioeconomic status were disruptive events. Participants used stoic rationality—the positive appraisal of painful experiences—to structure their sense-making and stories of violence. This rationality permeated perpetrators’ presentations of themselves, their turning points and lived experiences, and the violence performed and suffered. This paper grapples with the widespread assumption that homicide is a radical change in the lives of offenders and questions the universal meaning of violent death. Performing violence is not only neutralized but is also seen as an expected and inaugural event in life stories, dependent on the worldviews of the social actors.

A Socially Constructed Individualist: An Interactionist Study of Role-Making among Orchestral Conductors

Dominika Byczkowska-Owczarek

The paper analyzes the role-making of an orchestral conductor. It is framed by the symbolic interactionist perspective and focuses on Ralph Turner’s role-making theory and the works of Alfred Schütz and Howard S. Becker and associates. The research project is based on grounded theory methodology. The applied techniques include semi-structured interviews, video-elicited interviews, observations of teaching conducting and opera rehearsals, video analysis, and secondary data analysis. The results reveal how the process of role-making is shaped during secondary socialization and indicate the social features of the role, such as high social prestige, awareness of the body, an exclusive social group, and teamwork. The role-making process is based on permanent interactions and negotiations with social actors: the composer and the musical score, the orchestra, soloists, ballet, and the audience. Additionally, it is influenced by cultural factors, such as the conductor’s gender, age, nationality and international experience, competencies, as well as the type of professional contract. At the same time, conductors need to actively maintain the image of determined and resolute individualists, as expected by the social actors they interact with.

Popular Stoicism in the Face of Social Uncertainty

Renata Dopierała

The article discusses popular Stoicism (a modern, simplified, and often commercialized version of ancient Stoicism), which is offered as an answer to the uncertainty of modernity. The financial, political, climate, and health crises have been detrimental to the sense of agency and control over one’s life, leading individuals to seek ways of (subjectively) regaining it. Popular Stoicism can be viewed as an expert system providing individuals with a specific vision of happiness and the good life, in addition to offering practical knowledge on how to define an area of individual agency by negotiating the boundaries between that which is within one’s power and that which is not. Reflections begin with a juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary Stoicism, focusing on their different socio-cultural origins, followed by a synthesis of the principles of ancient Stoicism on happiness and the good life and a detailed interpretation of the ‘offering’ of popular Stoicism in the relevant areas. In the latter context, two chosen Stoic exercises (necessary to achieve happiness and the good life) are discussed—the ability to recognize what things depend/do not depend on us and Stoic emotion work. The practices and techniques recommended as a part of constant work on oneself are also supposed to teach individuals to adapt to their unstable reality. As a result, the popular version of Stoicism perpetuates the mechanisms of the culture of individualism, which holds the individual fully responsible for their life, and the therapeutic and counseling culture (based on one’s readiness to constantly self-improve), which is a new form of disciplining in a neoliberal society. Both are important elements of the everyday life and lifestyle of the middle class. This class is interested in self-fulfillment and is the primary target audience of contemporary Stoic handbooks. The consideration is based on fragments of books on popular Stoicism, mainly written by Polish philosophers, subjected to qualitative content analysis.

Mapping Environmental Commitment: A Situational Analysis of Illegal Dumps in the City

Anna Kacperczyk, Remigiusz Żulicki

The paper refers to the research Trash in the Wild: A Pilot Project Mapping Citizenship Environmental Activism in the Collaborative Study in the Lodz Area. In the study, inhabitants of Lodz (Poland) were invited to participate in data gathering and create a map of unauthorized dumps in their city. The collaborative mapping was intended to localize problematic spots in the city of Lodz, but it also shows civic commitment and the inhabitants’ ecological consciousness level. The authors based on ethnographic data (observations, walk-alongs, interviews, and data obtained from institutions), attempting to develop a situational analysis of the phenomenon of illegal dumps in the city. The analysis reveals how different positions of the City Guard, Municipal Economy Department, waste disposal companies, journalists, environmental activists, researchers, and citizens participating in the project vary their standpoints and views on the studied problem. Presenting the context and first results of the research, the authors refer to the issue of building relationships with researched subjects during the investigation process. Trying to navigate between them, researchers strive to introduce their different, sometimes contradictory, viewpoints into the research, not losing their commitment and the valuable data they can submit. The analysis shows that the issue of illegal dumps lies at the intersection of many discourses and involves numerous social worlds, organizations, and entities. In this dynamic situation, many practices and conditions contribute to the persistence of the problem of illegal waste disposal.

To Be an Autoethnographer or Not to Be—That Is the Question

Łukasz Marciniak

It is the most personal article I have ever written, revealing my fears, hesitations, reflections, and decisions. I am still striving to write a scientific and academic paper, still looking for that academic framework that would allow this article to be recognized as a scientific text, with the reflection on that internal pressure and need to make it scientific. This is an article about the process of becoming an autoethnographer, creating a tool, shaping identity and research strategy, and becoming one.


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