Considering Pluralism Through the Lens of Integral Research

  • Diana R. DansereauEmail author
Part of the Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education book series (LAAE, volume 23)


Individuals in a pluralist society are actively engaged with diversity, seek a true understanding of differences, are diligent in including varying perspectives, value engagement with one another, and are committed to ongoing, constructive dialogue (Eck, D., From diversity to pluralism. The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, (2006)). Though borrowed from writings on religious pluralism, these principles can be useful for understanding and working toward research pluralism.

In this essay, I examine these pluralist principles and consider ways in which the society of music education researchers reflects pluralism. Then, I apply Lessem & Schieffer’s (Integral research and innovation: transforming enterprise and society. Gower Publishing, Ltd., Farnham, GB, (2010b)) Integral Research as a framework for the type of criticism necessary for pluralist engagement. I discuss how Integral Research provides a reminder that research decisions ought to be manifestations of an individual’s experience, worldview, and cultural perspective, and that the breadth of research approaches must be equitably included in a research community striving for pluralism. As I present an overview of Integral Research, I suggest examples from music education research that reflect particular features of the theory, and highlight a key aspect – that research has little meaning unless it leads directly to social improvement. I draw from Lessem & Schieffer (Integral research and innovation: transforming enterprise and society. Gower Publishing, Ltd., Farnham, GB, (2010b)) and Boyce-Tillman (Boyce-Tillman J Promoting well-being through music education. Philos. Music Educ Rev 89–98 (2000)) to argue that as researchers actively strive for a pluralist research community, we must also look inward, seeking variety and balance in the approaches that we employ. Finally, I suggest that the time is right for music education researchers to consider how our research may directly affect social change.


Research Pluralism Education Music education Integral research Social justice Community Society 


  1. Bečić, E., Piciga, D., & Hrast, A. (2013). Measurement preconditions systemic action: The case of integral low-carbon country and sustainable development indicators. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 26(6), 513–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benedict, C., Schmidt, P. K., Spruce, G., & Woodford, P. (2015). The Oxford handbook of social justice in music education. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Boyce-Tillman, J. (2000). Promoting well-being through music education. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 89–98.Google Scholar
  4. DeLorenzo, L. C. (Ed.). (2015). Giving voice to democracy in music education : Diversity and social justice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Eck, D. (2006). From diversity to pluralism. The Pluralism Project at Harvard University, available at
  6. Einarsdottir, S. L. (2012). J.s bach in everyday life: the ‘choral identity’ of an amateur ‘art music’ bach choir and the concept of ‘choral capital’. (U595612 Ph.D.), University of Exeter (United Kingdom), Ann Arbor. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database.
  7. Einarsdottir, S. L. (2014). ‘Leaders,’ ‘followers’ and collective group support in learning ‘art music’ in an amateur composer-oriented Bach Choir. British Journal of Music Education, 31(03), 281–296. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gage, N. L. (1989). The paradigm wars and their aftermath a “historical” sketch of research on teaching since 1989. Educational Researcher, 18(7), 4–10.Google Scholar
  9. Given, L. M. (2008). The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gould, E., & Countryman, J. (Eds.). (2009). Exploring social justice : How music education might matter. Toronto: Canadian Music Educators’ Association.Google Scholar
  11. Lamont, M., & Swidler, A. (2014). Methodological pluralism and the possibilities and limits of interviewing. Qualitative Sociology, 37(2), 153–171. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lessem, R. (2001). Managing in four worlds: Culture, strategy and transformation. Long Range Planning, 34(1), 9–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lessem, R., & Schieffer, A. (2010a). Integral economics: Releasing the economic genius of your society. Farnham: Gower Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  14. Lessem, R., & Schieffer, A. (2010b). Integral research and innovation: Transforming enterprise and society. Farnham, GB: Gower Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  15. MacKinlay, E. (2015). Performing bodies: Negotiating race and gender In An Indigenous Australian Performance Studies Class. GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, and Society), the on-line Journal of GRIME (Gender Research in Music Education), 8(2).Google Scholar
  16. Mamukwa, E., Lessem, R., & Schieffer, A. (2016). Integral Green Zimbabwe: An African phoenix rising. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. McEvoy, P., & Richards, D. (2006). A critical realist rationale for using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Journal of Research in Nursing, 11(1), 66–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Oshodi, B. (2014). An integral approach to development economics: Islamic finance in an African context. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  19. Pellissier-Tanon, A., & Moreira, J. M. (2007). Can social justice be achieved? From Aristotle to Friedrich Hayek: Bertrand de Jouvenel’s analysis of the desirability and possibility of a just social order. Journal of Markets & Morality, 10(1), 143–156.Google Scholar
  20. Richardson, C. (2006). Collaborative consonance: Hearing our voices while listening to the choir. A collaborative narrative inquiry into the role of music in the lives of seven preservice teachers. (NR21829 Ph.D.), University of Toronto (Canada), Ann Arbor. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database.
  21. Sætre, J. H. (2014). Preparing generalist student teachers to teach music. A mixed-methods study of teacher educators and educational content in generalist teacher education music courses. Oslo: Norges musikkhøgskole.Google Scholar
  22. Schieffer, A., & Lessem, R. (2009). Beyond social and private enterprise: Towards the integrated enterprise. Transition Studies Review, 15(4), 713–725.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schieffer, A., & Lessem, R. (2014). The integral university: Holistic development of individuals, communities, organisations and societies. Prospects, 44(4), 607–626. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schieffer, A., Tong, J. T., Rima, S. D., & Lessem, R. (2013). Integral dynamics: Political economy, cultural dynamics and the future of the university. Farnham, GB: Gower Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  25. Scott, D. (2005). Critical realism and empirical research methods in education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 39(4), 633–646. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stage, F. K., & Manning, K. (2015). Research in the college context: Approaches and methods. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Tubbs, N. (1998). What is love’s work? Women: A cultural review, 9(1), 34–46.Google Scholar
  28. Zachariadis, M., Scott, S., & Barrett, M. (2013). Methodological implications of critical realism for mixed-methods research. MIS Quarterly, 37(3), 855–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Fine ArtsBoston UniversityBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations