Post-structural feminist interpretive interactionism

Document Type

Journal Article


R C N Publishing Co.


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Nursing and Midwifery / Clinical Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre




This archived version is not the version of record. Jefford, E., & Sundin, D. (2013). Post-structural feminist interpretive interactionism. Nurse Researcher, 21(1), 14-22. Availablehere


Aim: To present an adaptation of interpretive interactionism that incorporates and honours feminist values and principles. Background: Interpretive interactionism as described by Denzin can be useful when examining interactive processes. It is especially useful when events affect turning points in people's lives. When issues of power and power imbalances are of interest, a critical poststructural lens may be of use to the researcher. The authors planned to examine the interactions between midwives and women at the 'epiphaneal' points of decision making during second-stage labour. It became clear that it was necessary to honour and thus incorporate feminist principles and values in their methodology. Data sources: This paper draws on a recently completed PhD project to demonstrate the application of post-structural feminist interpretive interactionism. Twenty six midwives representing each state and territory across Australia who were representative of every model of midwifery care offered in Australia were interviewed to gauge their experiences of what they believed represented good and poor case examples of decision making during second-stage labour. Review methods: The authors critique the philosophical underpinnings of interpretive interactionism, and then modify these to acknowledge and incorporate poststructural and feminist ideologies. Discussion: Interpretive interactionism is a useful methodology when the research question is best addressed by examining interactional processes and the meanings people make of them, especially if these occur at turning points in people's lives. Interpretive interactionism methodology can and should be improved by taking account of issues of power, feminism and post-structural values. Conclusion Post-structural feminist interpretative interactionism has much to offer healthcare researchers who want to develop methodologically robust findings. Implications for practice/research Post-structural feminist interpretive interactionism enables the researcher to be more cognisant of the complex social political and historical context of midwifery. Researchers using feminist and post-structural ideologies will enhance research findings when these tools are applied consciously and reflexively.