As a qualitative researcher I am constantly reflecting on how my experiences influence my subjectivity. Each time an event occurs our world view changes and therefore impacts the way we interact with others. As opposed to positivist approaches to inquiry, an interpretivist method of inquiry promotes a subjectivist value on the importance of what we are research. For example, this past week we have once again experienced the senseless act of terror, this time at a sporting event. Perhaps our past experiences living in war torn countries, growing up in poverty, or memories of racial segregation flare up every time their is an act of terrorism. Or perhaps if none of these have affected you, your experience is still impacted by what you hear in the media. I remember visiting the UK years ago and asked why there were no garbage cans in public places. I was told about the history of terrorism in the UK during the IRA political wars with Britain. Because this was my experience, when I heard about the Boston Marathon being terrorized by a bomb that was in a garbage can it stirred up these experiences for me once again.
Now I wonder, while I move forward in my research working with people, how I will be affected by these events. Will they make me more aware? distrustful? compassionate? Although an unintended consequence – my experience has changed and my thoughts filter new information and I will approach an interview tomorrow differently than the way I did yesterday. Perhaps I will ask a question about how my interviewee has been affected by senseless violence? Perhaps this exploration will uncover an intersubjectivity between two people that will change our worldview? As we move forward in building relationships with others we ask ourselves about our position in the world and hopefully ask ourselves what we can help improve rather than what we can help destroy. How does your experience affect your inquiry?