It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing: Jazz as Metaphor and Research Methodology
This paper offers jazz as a metaphor for qualitative research methodology. The author suggests some epistemological and methodological considerations for which jazz is a useful heuristic. Grounded in what Ladson-Billings (2000) describes as a "racialized epistemology" and Lawrence-Lightfoot's portraiture methodology, this paper argues for jazz as both a metaphor and a methodology in qualitative research. Given the "seventh moment" in qualitative research that takes into account the researchers subjective positionality, a jazz methodology brings to bear the synergistic, highly interactive and improvisatory nature of qualitative research. Moreover, the author argues that given the complexity of conducting research within one's own community, "traditional" methods of qualitative research that take a posture of objectivity and neutrality, are potentially more harmful than good, and in many senses are unrealistic. Jazz, as a music that has historically been one of protest and Black culture, not withstanding the recent emergence of hip hop, provides not only the epistemological vocabulary, but also provides a helpful way to conceptualize research given its inherent commitment to the democratic process.
Keywords: Qualitative Research, Portraiture, Jazz
Dr. Adrienne Dixson
Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University