Embodiment in Qualitative Research  book cover
1st Edition

Embodiment in Qualitative Research

ISBN 9781629582313
Published April 12, 2017 by Routledge
248 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Embodiment in Qualitative Research connects critical, interdisciplinary theorizing of embodiment with creative, practical strategies for engaging in embodied qualitative research. Ellingson equips qualitative researchers not only to resist the mind–body split in principle but to infuse their research with the vitality that comes from embracing knowledge production as deeply embedded in sensory experience.

Grounded in poststructuralist, posthumanist, and feminist perspectives, this innovative book synthesizes current interdisciplinary theories and research on embodiment; explores research examples from across the social sciences, education, and allied health; and features embodied ethnographic tales and evocative moments from everyday life for reflexive consideration. Each chapter offers flexible starting points for doing embodiment actively throughout every stage of qualitative research. An awareness of, and an active engagement with, issues of embodiment enhances scholars’ ability to produce high quality research and enlarges their capacity as public intellectuals to spark positive social change, particularly within marginalized communities. The strategies offered relate to methodologies from across the entire spectrum: from traditional qualitative methods such as grounded theory, critical/theoretical analysis, and discourse analysis, to arts-based research — including performance, autoethnographic narrative, poetry, and documentary film making.

Embodiment in Qualitative Research is designed as a resource book for qualitative researchers who want to explore the latest trends in critical theorizing. The writing style will appeal to researchers who seek a bridge between abstract theorizing and pragmatic strategies for producing outstanding qualitative research, as well as to critical scholars who want to integrate embodied ways of knowing with their theorizing. Graduate (and advanced undergraduate) qualitative methods students and early career researchers, as well as advanced scholars seeking to enrich the scope and texture of their work, will find the text inspiring and engaging.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Elusive Bodies: The (Dis)Embodiment of Research;  1 Coming to Terms: Embodying Qualitative Research  2 Designing Bodies: Planning for Conscious Embodiment  3 Inquiring Bodies: Embodiment as a Research Focus  4 Ethnographic Bodies: Enacting Embodied Fieldwork  5 Co-Constructing Meaning through Embodied Talk  6 Textual Bodies: Creating Embodied Data  7 Analyzing Bodies: Embodying Analysis across the Qualitative Continuum  8 Speaking of/for Bodies: Embodying Representation;  Post Script: Common Threads;  References;  Index

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Laura L. Ellingson, Ph.D., is Professor of Communication and Women’s & Gender Studies at Santa Clara University. Her research focuses on qualitative and feminist methodologies, gender within extended and chosen family networks, and communication in health care delivery.


Ellingson offers a compelling argument for acknowledging the already embodied nature of qualitative research, and flexible tools for embracing embodiment as a methodological resource. Embodiment in Qualitative Research is the book qualitative researchers have been waiting for—a must-read for scholars committed to reflexive and socially responsive qualitative research.

Professor Lynn M. Harter, Co-Director, Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact, Ohio University


For years poststructuralist and posthumanist researchers have been making important arguments about why bodies matter. Through her engaging and enlightening text, Laura L. Ellingson shows us how. By asking and answering important questions about how we embody the research we do, Ellingson has created a valuable sourcebook for researchers. This well-researched, well-articulated book is nothing short of a game changer for qualitative inquiry.

Jimmie Manning, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication, Northern Illinois University


Ellingson does it again, reimagining and and rearticulating the qualitative landscape in this heartfelt, theoretically-informed, and unapologetically eclectic book on how to "do body" in qualitative research. In an era that celebrates the largely disembodied activities of online data collection and data analysis through computer software, Ellingson pragmatically and vulnerably shows how and why embodied humanity—in all its imperfection and overflowing abundance—is valuable at every stage of the qualitative research process.

Sarah J. Tracy, Ph.D., Jeanne Lind Herberger Professor, The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University

Laura provides eloquent examples where she creatively writes her own and others’ bodies into her research. Reading these descriptively rich and flowing sections of prose, I felt like I was getting to know Laura, her passion for research, her attention to specific details in the field, her quirky way of reflecting on her own disability, and her strange hankering for sugar-free fizzy pop.

Craig Owen, International Society of Critical Health Psychology