Not So Innocent Anymore: Making Recording Devices Matter in Qualitative Interviews


The purpose of this article is to throw into radical doubt the material-discursive practices of recording devices (e.g., tape and digital recorders) used in qualitative interviews. To do this work, I first present a Baradian diffractive reading, a reading across epistemological and ontological differences that matter, of recording devices in qualitative research. I explore how recording devices have become a normalized material-discursive practice in which recording devices are both part of and result from an objectivist epistemology and realist ontology. Then, I share four irruptive moments from my study about family history genealogists’ use of objects (e.g., photographs, documents, and artifacts) that called into question such a material-discursive practice. Last, I situate recording devices in Barad’s agential realism, an onto-epistemological framework in which recording devices intra-act with humans, nonhumans, culture, and discourse to generate entangled meanings and knowledge in a constantly shifting world(s).

Publication Title

Qualitative Inquiry