Qualitative Inquiry as Gegenwerk: Connections Between Art and Research

  • Derek Pigrum University of Bath
  • Andrew Stables University of Bath


In this article, the authors apply the findings of research into transitional processes in the arts to a consideration of qualitative research. They identify and describe four types of transitional practice: the transferential, the transformational, the transpositional, and the transgressional. Transitional practices in both art and research are found to be dialectical, involving presencing and absencing, doing and undoing, and repetition with modifications, and to produce provisional or transitional outcomes. Such practices enable both artists and researchers to manage tangled connections, juxtapositions, intertwinings, overlappings, and dislocations. Research is therefore not a simple linear process but, like (other) artistic processes, involves absencing, transformation, and redetermination as processes of emergent disclosure. Transitional practices therefore involve “work against the work”: Gegenwerk. An understanding of, and training in, such practices has the potential to develop quality, reflexivity, and criticality in both the undertaking and the reading of qualitative research.