The relationship between symbolic interactionism and interpretive description

  • Oliver C
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Abstract

In this article I explore the relationship between symbolic interactionist theory and interpretive description methodology. The two are highly compatible, making symbolic interactionism an excellent theoretical framework for interpretive description studies. The pragmatism underlying interpretive description supports locating the methodology within this cross-disciplinary theory to make it more attractive to nonnursing researchers and expand its potential to address practice problems across the applied disciplines. The theory and method are so compatible that symbolic interactionism appears to be part of interpretive description's epistemological foundations. Interpretive description's theoretical roots have, to date, been identified only very generally in interpretivism and the philosophy of nursing. A more detailed examination of its symbolic interactionist heritage furthers the contextualization or forestructuring of the methodology to meet one of its own requirements for credibility.

Author-supplied keywords

  • epistemology
  • interpretive description
  • interpretive methods
  • nursing
  • research design
  • research, interdisciplinary
  • research, qualitative
  • symbolic interactionism

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Authors

  • Carolyn Oliver

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