'Is it just me...?': Q methodology and representing the marginal

Capdevila, Rose and Lazard, Lisa (2008). 'Is it just me...?': Q methodology and representing the marginal. Operant Subjectivity, 32 pp. 70–84.

URL: http://operantsubjectivity.org/os/previousissues


In this paper Q as a constructionist methodology is considered through its engagement with marginality. Drawing primarily on debates within and examples from the discipline of psychology, we aim to illustrate ways in which issues of marginality become relevant to constructionist concerns around knowledge production. A key focus of constructionism(s) is on multiple versions of social phenomena in situated and local contexts. This position represents a move away from, and a challenge to, totalising forms of knowledge associated with more objectivist epistemologies. Broadly speaking, Q’s ability to tap into a range of perspectives or, what we will refer to here as, narratives – marginal or otherwise – provides a way to explicate constructionist concerns with multiplicity and unsettle mainstream notions of coherent and total knowledges of the social world. To contextualise the ways in which Q works with notions of marginality, this paper begins by delineating how Q itself is (re)produced as an othered methodology in debates around its location within the quantitative ‐qualitative dichotomy. We move on to consider the ways in which Q may offer a distinctive contribution within constructionist‐informed research through its ability to make expressions of marginality manifest.

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