In our recent publication in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Eva-Maria Schmidt, Ulrike Zartler and I reflect on ontological and epistemological implications of triangulating perspectives in family research.
Multiple perspective interviews (MPIs) involve interviewing members of a social group separately and triangulating their accounts during analysis to gain insights into the functioning of such groups (e.g. families). So far, there has been little engagement with the specific challenges of MPI research during the analysis, particularly with dissonant data. To illustrate the importance of this aspect, we draw on the triangulation metaphor and related epistemological and ontological perspectives, which determine analytic choices and thus yield different forms of knowledge. We show how triangulating perspectives can extend individual-level results, but also how researchers should go beyond a descriptive level of analysis for convergent and dissonant accounts to realize the potential of MPIs. Convergence should not be assumed too hastily, yet, there might be dissonance that cannot be resolved. (Self-)reflection on epistemological views, interpretive practice, and the purpose of MPI as well as their interrelation can increase the strengths of MPI approaches.