Applying the 'experience-near' principle to research: Psychoanalytically informed methods

Hollway, Wendy (2009). Applying the 'experience-near' principle to research: Psychoanalytically informed methods. Journal of Social Work Practice, 23(4) pp. 461–474.



This article is about how to preserve the vitality of the meaning conveyed to social science researchers by participants. I use the example of a qualitative, psycho-social project on the topic of how women's identities change when they become mothers for the first time. Psychoanalysis was used and adapted to understand both participants' and researchers' experience, and the relation of these to each other. I describe two psychoanalytically informed research methods, free association narrative interviewing and infant observation, and give examples of how, separately and together they can go beyond a text-based method and conceptualise identities in ways that avoid reproducing assumptions of rational, unitary, discursive subjectivity. In assessing how well the two methods worked, I focus my discussion on the observation method using four themes: dimensions of time, embodiment and practices, spatial sensitivity and multiple positioning and how knowing is accomplished in research.

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