Last updated: April 17, 2006

[Narrative Psychology]

Establishing a Division for Qualitative Inquiry

within the American Psychological Association

Dear Colleague,

Responding to the steadily increasing interest in qualitative inquiry, a group of us met at the recent APA meetings to consider evidence for developing a new Division for Qualitative Inquiry. We were struck with the potentials. In the social sciences more generally there has been a burgeoning of new forms of qualitative inquiry, and a lively debate on their potentials, limitations, and philosophical implications. Journals and handbooks are numerous. Yet American psychologists have played almost no role in these new directions. We believe psychology has a great deal both to offer and to gain in regard to these developments in qualitative inquiry. However, at present there is no forum in which relevant issues and practices can be pursued. Qualitative research is now scattered across a number of divisions and marginalized as a mode of inquiry. There is no central forum where such inquiry can be explored in terms of its potentials, and placed under focused attention.

Further, there is a strong need to place such practices and their methodological and epistemological properties under examination. There is no "home," for example, where issues in the study of lives and psychobiography, narrative data, ethnography, and discourse can be explored and assessed, and in which approaches to teaching qualitative research can be discussed. There are also new developments in auto-ethnography, performance, and participatory action research that demand attention. At a theoretical level, we could include, among others, researchers who work from phenomenological, constructivist, and social constructionist orientations. A new division would also open opportunities for discussions among those who wish to put the "whole person" at the center of inquiry, as well as those who approach research from critical, interpretative and historical perspectives. We see qualitative inquiry as a pluralistic movement that includes multiple approaches to theory and research practices. It is our hope that such a division would work towards exploring standards for effective qualitative research and mounting educational programs for teachers and students interested in employing qualitative methods in academic and professional work.

In effect, this is an ideal time to form a Division for Qualitative Inquiry. We hope you will join the effort. The requirements for a new division are daunting. Required are 850 signatories who are APA Members (or Fellows) for this effort to succeed. Signature involves stating that you would be willing to join this new Division should it be approved; dues will be low - no more than 10 dollars. We hope you will sign the attached form (see below) and mail it to the address indicated on the form. (Your signature will also be accepted if you send it by email attachment with an electronic/scanned signature.) If you know others who might wish to join this initiative, please forward this message and attachment or direct them to this site.

Thank you for your support.

Ken Gergen and Ruthellen Josselson, Co-chairs.

Steering Committee:

Michael Bamburg, Scott Churchill, Bert Cohler, Keith Davis, Mary Gergen, Belinda Khong, Brinton Lykes, Dan McAdams, Suzanne Ouellette, Martin Packer, Don Polkinghorne, Mac Runyan, Todd Schultz, and Hank Stam.

Instructions: Please download a "Sign Card" to petition APA for the establishment of a Division for Qualitative Inquiry by clicking below for the form in either the MS Word .doc or Adobe portable document format (pdf) version. The address at which to send back the card is included at the bottom of the form.

Version:     MS Word .doc format     Adobe portable document format (pdf)