22 SES 05 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Parallel Paper Session
Our paper at ECER 2011 reported a project, influenced by the work of Bourdieu, researching individual doctoral trajectories and the development of reflexivity about research practice. The proposed paper for ECER 2012 seeks to develop our theoretical framing of the project in which we have used life history accounts and interviews as the basis of a highly participative approach where participants engage as both subjects and objects of the research by working in dyads. A number of meetings have also been held with participants where there has been much discussion of ethical issues such as sharing, trust, confidentiality and commitment to the project. What has been missing from these discussions has been the nature of the ‘data’ that has been produced, especially the life history accounts. Our object in this paper is therefore to explore ways in which we can construe the narrative elements of the methodology in this project and ways we can open these elements up to scientific understanding with the project participants. The project incorporates a strong element of learning about research methodology, and developing a theoretical framework for understanding the narrative elements is aimed at achieving reflexivity, defined here as “a theory of intellectual practice as an integral component and necessary condition of a critical theory of society” (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 36). Such reflexivity demands scrutiny of the social conditions of production of the discourse the academic is operating within.
With the concept of habitus, Bourdieu stresses the agent's built-in resistance to change, understood as “a non-conscious, unwilled avoidance” (1990: 60-1) Against this he argues, in a later text, that “ dispositions are subject to a kind of permanent revision, but one which is never radical, because it works on the basis of the premises established in the previous state.” (2000: 161). Thus we can approach life history narratives as subject to a similar constant revision, a view also taken up by Polkinghorne (1991) in his argument for viewing the self as a narrative or story, one in which we are not the author but the narrator. Referring to Ricoeur, he argues that we have a need to provide coherent narratives of identity and we do this through the process of emplotment, which, though it can consist of "a single thread that serves to draw elements together, more often consists of multiple threads of subplots woven together into a complex and layered whole." (1991: 141). Where the emphasis in this latter approach is mostly upon identity and self-understanding, we are also concerned with developing a theoretical basis for understanding the communicative processes that are taking place and the structuring forces affecting the production of such narratives. Relevant issues here include the intended audience, presentation of self and the form of action dyads are engaged in. To do this we will draw on the forms of action - communicative, dramaturgical and strategic - identified by Habermas (1984, 1987, 1996, 2001) to develop our conceptual frame.
Bourdieu, P., (1990) The Logic of Practice, trans. Richard Nice, Cambridge: Polity Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, J.D. (1992) An Invitation to reflexive sociology, Cambridge: Polity Press Bourdieu, P., (2000) Pascalian Meditations, trans. Richard Nice, Cambridge: Polity Habermas, J. (1984), The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 1: Reason and the Rationalisation of Society, London, Heinemann Habermas, J. (1987), The Theory of Communicative Action, vol 2: Lifeworld and System: a critique of Functionalist Reason, Cambridge, Polity Habermas, J. (1996) ‘Some further clarifications of the concept of Communicative Rationality’ in Habermas, J. ed. Cooke, M. (1999), On the pragmatics of communication, Cambridge, Polity pp. 307-342 Habermas, J., (2001) On the pragmatics of social interaction, trans. B. Fultner. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press Polkinghorne, D E (1991) 'Narrative and Self-Concept', in Journal of Narrative and Life History, 1 (2 and 3), 135-153 Richardson, L. (2000) ‘New Writing Practices in Qualitative Research’, in Sociology of Sport Journal, 17, 5-20 Sparkes, A. (2000) ‘Autoethnography and Narratives of Self: Reflections on Criteria in Action’, in Sociology of Sport Journal, 17, 21-43 Wittgenstein, L. (2009) Philosophical Investigations. 4th edition Oxford, Blackwell
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