This article theorizes the issue of validity that is premised upon social constructionist assumptions, particularly as it is applied to the assessment of qualitative research. As a social construction, validity must thus be interrogated for its discursive function within the social sciences. I will argue that, as a criterion of assessment, validity polices the social science enterprise and thus, functions as a practice of power through the de/legitimation of social knowledge, research practice, and experiential possibilities. This critique will lead into a reformulation of validity that actively recognizes and negotiates its practice of power. Within this reformulation, research findings are conceptualized as representations and should be scrutinized for their realist, critical, deconstructive, and reflexive narrative function. Put simply, assessing qualitative research entails multiple and contradictory readings of its representational failures and successes. Therefore, validity is no longer conceived as a determination (i.e., is valid versus is not valid) but a continual process of interrogation. This new framework will be applied to my Masters thesis research that explored domestic violence and relationship abuse among gay males. Implications for research practice are discussed.


Qualitative Methodology, Validity, Social Constructionism, Gay Male Partner Abuse

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