A Call to the Particular: Contributions from Theology and Qualitative Research

  • Aana Marie Vigen
Part of the Black Religion / Womanist Thought / Social Justice book series (BRWT)


To know and experience in one’s own bones that one’s worth is accurately seen and fully respected by others amounts to basic sustenance for human living. Akin to air, food, and water that expand the belly and breast, such embodied knowledge replenishes ephemeral storehouses that perpetually ache for meaning, joy, love, and hope. It is, in short, a requirement for human life—as integral as any physical need.


Qualitative Research Latina Woman Social Ethic Healthcare Ethic Liberation Theologian 
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    One can glimpse the evolution of the modern hospital in Philippe Ariès, Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, trans. Patricia M. Ranum (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
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    Loic Wacquant distinguishes Bourdieu’s notion of reflexivity from others in this manner: Bourdieu’s brand of reflexivity, which may be cursorily defined as the inclusion of a theory of intellectual practice as an integral component and necessary condition of a critical theory of society, differs from others in three crucial ways: First, its primary target is not the individual analyst but the social and intellectual unconscious embedded in analytic tools and operations; second, it must be a collective enterprise rather than the burden of the lone academic; and third, it seeks not to assault but to buttress the epistemological security of sociology. Far from trying to undermine objectivity, Bourdieu’s reflexivity aims at increasing the scope and solidity of social scientific knowledge, a goal which puts it at loggerheads with phenomenological, textual, and other “postmodern” forms of reflexivity. (Pierre Bourdieu and Loic J.D. Wacquant, Invitation to Reflexive Sociology [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992], 36–37. Emphasis Wacquant’s.)Google Scholar
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    Comment made in the qualitative methods writing group, personal notes taken December 10, 2003. She later added, “I’m just a simple practitioner, not a grand practitioner. But, listening respectfully has great value for health studies and academia. People will tell you a lot.” Along these lines, she referred me to a helpful article by Ruth Behar that powerfully tells the story of one Latina after having a hysterectomy. See Ruth Behar, “My Mexican Friend Marta Who Lost Her Womb on This Side of the Border,” Journal of Women’s Health 2, no. 1 (1993): 85–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    I am not alone in having such an encounter with an IRB. See Elizabeth Herdman, “Pearls, Pith, and Provocation: Reflections on ‘Making Somebody Angry,’” Qualitative Health Research 10, no. 5(September 2000):691–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    I should credit Clifford Geertz with the term “thick description.” See Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Harper, 1973).Google Scholar

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© Aana Marie Vigen 2006

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