From Subjects to Subjectivities

A Handbook of Interpretive and Participatory Methods

350 pages

December, 2000

ISBN: 9780814782590



Also available in


Deborah L. Tolman is a Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Adolescent Sexuality Project at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College.

All books by Deborah L. Tolman

Mary Brydon-Miller is an Associate Professor at the Springfield College School of Human Services, Manchester, NH site, where she coordinates the Gerontology Program.

All books by Mary Brydon-Miller

From Subject to Subjectivities profiles the recent debates about the role of qualitative and participatory methods in psychology, a discipline which has traditionally seen itself as a form of positivistic science. Contributors explain how fundamentally different views of the nature of reality and of scientific theory have shaped these debates, and how psychology is being transformed through the use of these methods.

At the heart of the book are 10 exemplars of interpretive and participatory action research which describe the rationale for and process of using these methods in actual cases. They also articulate some of the challenges psychologists may face in adopting them, offering insights into how these complications can be successfully negotiated. Relevant beyond psychology, the models provided can be used within the context of a wide array of social science disciplines, from sociology and anthropology to women's studies and public health.

The contributors represent a veritable "who's who" of qualitative scholars, including Lyn Mikel Brown, Larry Davidson, Michelle Fine, Louise Kidder, M. Brinton Lykes, Jeanne Marecek, Abigail Stewart, and Niobe Way.

No previous book has examined qualitative and participatory methods specifically within the context of psychology. From Subjects to Subjectivities provides a unique and badly needed resource for those interested in learning about the practice of these methods in the field.


  • ”A wonderfully constructive achievement that justly reclaims the legacy of action research in psychology. Giving the reader a broad and diverse view of the vibrant new work in this area, the book is a superb resource for anyone wanting to familiarize themselves with state of the art psychological action research. It also serves the newcomer admirably as an introduction to action research generally and to some of its most talented practitioners.”

    —Davydd J. Greenwood, Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

  • ”Moves the spotlight from experiments to experience. A fabulous array of psychological stars show us both what qualitative psychology is and how to do it. This book has the potential to change the field of psychology by opening it up to diverse empirical approaches and compelling subject matter.”

    —Shulamit Reinharz, Brandeis University

  • ”Destined to become a classic in all areas of psychology as we expand our view of psychological methods. This collection will become a must-have to train students to go beyond traditional methods in psychology, as well as for those researchers who want to expand their training and engage in research that speaks to the general public. The discipline as a whole will be enriched by the publication of this book.”

    —Aída Hurtado, University of California, Santa Cruz

  • "I commend this book to researchers and teachers of researchers alike. We are indebted to the pioneering authors for sharing their experience and frankly addressing the issues and practical barriers to pursuing justice through feminist research."

    Psychology of Women Quarterly