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Journal of Qualitative Inquiry








This paper was to investigate urgent issues in qualitative research, specifically the ontological conundrum that researchers commonly encountered in depicting experience and social reality. The turn to “experience” has expanded the modes of qualitative research by hearing “marginalized” voices, and thus increasing cultural awareness. Based on the review over multiple approaches to “experience” to enrich conversation in qualitative research, three major approaches to “experience” were identified, drawn from phenomenology, narrative inquiry, and critical ethnographic studies. This examination provided a platform to explore complex meanings of experience, defined by poststructuralist theories: (a) experience as discursively constructed, (b) experience as non-linear development, (c) experience as performative acts, and (d) experience as (im)possible representation. To conclude, I examined two major implications of poststructuralist theories to develop different epistemological and ontological approaches to qualitative research—namely (a) interrogating experience built upon discursive subjectivity construction and (b) rethinking and restructuring experience differently. By debunking a normative approach to experience, I encourage qualitative researchers to revisit habitual ways of theorizing experience, while releasing their methodological imagination in qualitative research.


Author Posting. © Korean Associate for Qualitative Inquiry, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of Korean Associate for Qualitative Inquiry for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 2:1, 33-65.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.