In this focused issue, the potential for qualitative research to act as an alternative to the functionalist epistemic context for ICMB is foregrounded.
that mere calls for more qualitative work may not go far enough in reconfiguring ICMB research and may well fail to address the deeper epistemological challenges the field faces.
Having said that, it is the case that in ICMB research, such forms of reflexivity have yet to take center-stage.
Traditionally, realist ethnography has most typically rested on a kind of "descriptive neutrality" (Hammersley 1992) often pursued by qualitative researchers in ICMB.
In short, the presumed descriptive neutrality of much (traditional) interpretive and ethnographic research, pursued in an often unqualified fashion by ICMB researchers who consider qualitative methods as a panacea for the problems of positivism, serves to disavow its own politics of production and representation.
Through it, ICMB research can be read as an intellectual enterprise exhibiting continuity with the colonial project in terms of its: erasure of non-Western knowledge systems; universalizing tendencies; propagation of a particular, unitary form of scientific inquiry across the world; and its appropriating, essentializing and exoticizing strategies of representation, advanced in the name of legitimate knowledge.
We argue that ICMB research can, in many respects, be read as exhibiting continuity with the colonial project, as partially described above, and hence be amenable to postcolonial analysis.
A perusal of almost any ICMB textbook reveals that the history of the field is unremittingly located in those domains and explained in terms of the economic and business interests emanating from them.
We maintain that the interests and motives of ICMB research can be interpreted in a similar fashion.
Discourses of alterity, like ICMB research, are therefore relational discourses based on the deployment of oppositional binaries through which the West and the non-West are mutually constituted in an asymmetrical fashion.
Whilst it might be suggested that ICMB research is only at phase two of the seven movements of qualitative research identified by Denzin and Lincoln (2003)--a "modernist" phase comprising attempts to systematize and formalize qualitative research in ways that bring it closer to the criteria of normal science--the challenge is not simply to turn to more qualitative methods, and certainly not to bring in by the back door neo-positivist criteria of evaluating qualitative research.
The figure of the Other--a central trope in ICMB research--is a "cultural production", made ontologically possible by the discourses of the researcher and their institutional location; it is not an independently existing, a priori referent.