Practising interpretative geography

Pile, Steve (1991). Practising interpretative geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 16(4) pp. 458–469.




Qualitative methods have been gaining increasing recognition in geography. Yet, unlike quantitative techniques, there has been little discussion among geographers of the research process in which they participate. This is perhaps surprising because the researchers intend, by using qualitative methods, to be less authorial, authoritative and authoritarian. Specifi- cally, this paper explores issues relating to the power relations between the researcher and the researched and the methodology of interpretative geography. In this exploration, the notion of a 'research alliance' is introduced to suggest that power is operating in complex ways. Similarly, I assess the usefulness of the concepts of transference and counter- transference for talking about what goes on in interpretative research. However, on their own these ideas are not enough to cope with an analysis of power, they must be embedded in a self-reflexive epistemology, like 'scenic understanding'. I conclude by arguing that the grounds for an interpretative geography need to be shifted onto the intersubjective relationship between researcher and researched; thus, interfering with that distinction.

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