Postmodern phenomenologists suggest that life, culture, research, and texts of explanation and findings are actually a form of cinematography that has been developed on the basis of prior expectations and assumptions about the unfolding text although we seek for a research study to move beyond these dualities into a totally new paradigm of insight.
This makes a multiphased authentic qualitative research project exciting...and a little shivery. I'm not saying that we can't or won't arrive from masses of complexity to one finite and important insight -- indeed a recent hybrid archetypal study reduced 80 hours of research into a single finding with breakthrough implications -- but coming to singularity from complexity may take a variety of analytical styles and require different upfront expectations to process the way that raw qualitative data is handled, analyzed, assumed, and intuited. The following are explanations of aspired-to vs. complexity in research as we use more and more forms and combinations of methodologies in our research process.
Perception and imagination as "text" in research
Recently I joined a digital semiotics group on LinkedIn. This started thinking about the differences in perception and imagination communicated or based upon "the text" -- everything is a text, said Jacques Derrida -- that are observed when we sequence several different qualitative methodologies into a single hybrid study.
I reference Derrida's and Husserl's hypotheses that we can never entirely distinguish between perceptions and imagination even if traditional thought makes distinctions between dualities like rational-irrational, surface-deep, not knowing-knowing, or valid-invalid.
If we are studying a certain cultural tonality within lifestyles -- let's say it is millennials among Latinos or French-speaking Canadians or teens, moms, and households among South Asian immigrants -- to discover the more risk-taking, spontaneous, bolder aspects of their lives, we want our research to uncover the deeper and more authentic findings and insights. To do this deep dive culturally, we may decide to study this culture through a multipartioned, sequential combination of methodologies in which a series of respondents in several locations go through at least three phases of research, i.e., online digital ethnography, then creative focus groups, then authentic ethnography. Each of these methodologies yields a text. Our aspiration is that each text is consistent between methodologies, each methodology leads to more information that expands the insights from the previous one into new and understandable dimensions, and that the text gets deeper and more excitingly singular as research proceeds.
In frequent research cases, however, I note that respondents look, act, speak, behave, and emote differently -- they change personas and answers and behaviors and opinions and attitudes -- depending upon which methodology is being used and whether this is a written or oral methodology (online vs. focus groups) or individual vs. collective (self vs. other people like themselves or self vs. other people in the family). This is not dissimulation or intentional falsehood. The experienced researcher and team find that rather than understanding a single insight/text more and more deeply, the usage of multiple methodologies with the same respondents alters the text, i.e., unpeels the layers of the onion many times over, and brings us to a period of time in which contradiction, paradox, and reversals exist and must be factored into the analysis.
I enjoyed a film of Bernard Siegler, a French philosopher who lectures on perspectives of phenomenology and references Husserl and Derrida. These are from an interview in which Siegler is speaking about Derrida's film, "The Future is Ghosts."