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Philosophies of Qualitative Research$
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Svend Brinkmann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190247249

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190247249.001.0001

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French Philosophies of Qualitative Research

French Philosophies of Qualitative Research

Structuralism and Post-structuralism

6 French Philosophies of Qualitative Research
Philosophies of Qualitative Research

Svend Brinkmann

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the French traditions of structuralism and post-structuralism. What unites structuralists, post-structuralists, and many qualitative scholars who work on the basis of post-structuralism is a detachment of meaning from the world. Saussure argued that meaning is not found in the references of language but, rather, internally in language as a structure. Once meaning lost its ties to the world as such, the road was open for postmodernists and others who study discourses, representations, and social constructions as symbolic spheres in their own right. With the deconstructionist approach, there is a further willingness to unsettle the signifiers and show how everything can in principle be otherwise. In other words, everything obvious is always already rendered dubious. The postmodern attitude is a stance of openness to and tolerance of the idea that there are no stable foundations—no secure ways that our understandings are hooked on to the world.

Keywords:   structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, qualitative research, French philosophies

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