Chiasmatic interpretative communities: an innovative methodology

Ruth Billany

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: Qualitative social research strives to deepen our understanding of aspects of everyday human life and the narrative metaphor of people living storied lives is re-created in the focus group method. The purpose of this paper is to propose an innovative methodology for social research, that is, chiasmatic interpretative communities (CIC). Design/methodology/approach: The importance of evidence-based research to inform future social policy and practice depends on trustworthy information and the chosen research design or methodology must fit the purpose. The strengths and limitations of the focus group method are critically evaluated. Potential issues of accuracy during analysis are resolved by informing the interpretation of the discourse with experts from the community. Findings: Chiasmatic interpretative communities offer a re-imagined synthesis of a repeated focus group approach, with community experts as interpreters. Research limitations/implications: This blurs two methodological boundaries to enhance academic rigor. They are, the temporal blurring of linear sequential phases in research design (data collection and then data analysis) and the spatial blurring of power relations within the researcher:participant dyad. Practical implications: This transformative methodology is described from a pragmatist standpoint within an evaluative framework. Social implications: This innovative methodology potentially provides an emic perspective to inform social policy decisions. It aims to bring participants into the research process that might shape their future social services. Originality/value: A final section discusses the foresight of CIC and describes the bricolage of this critical qualitative research methodology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)196-213
    Number of pages18
    JournalQualitative Research Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • Bricolage
    • Chiasmatic interpretative communities
    • Focus groups
    • Interpretative community
    • Qualitative research
    • Qualitative social research
    • Repeated focus groups
    • Sociology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Chiasmatic interpretative communities: an innovative methodology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this