Just a little provocation, to continue our deliberations around the status of data in qualitative research. (See earlier blog item, ‘What is data?’ 7 September, 2012)
Has data had its day? Norman Denzin once told me that he doesn’t like the word ‘data’ and prefers his students to refer to ‘empirical materials’. His rationale (I think) was that in fields such as performance studies, the notion of data doesn’t really work. And in a recent email correspondence about the ‘new materialisms’, Norm returned to the question of data, and whether it was a necessary component/concept in qualitative research. He predicted its demise:
(from email 25.06.12, quoted with Norman’s permission):
I’m taken with the new materialism on the one side and the new developments (post-butler) within performance studies; post-empirical, post-humanistic, materialist pedagogies engage transformational politics engage theatres of the oppressed engage new communities of practice engage a new new from a new beginning …….
This radical strand cuts through and into our old fashioned modes of ‘inquiry’ calling for new ways of making the world visible—the mundane, from intervews, focused groups, ethnography, arts-based inquiry, discourse, narrative, par, borderlands case studies, video, dance, performance, writing as inquiry, to, in the end, the death of data.
So is the very idea of data ‘old fashioned’?