22 SES 03 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
In this paper, we briefly report an ongoing project described more fully in previous ECER HE network presentations (ECER 2012, 2011) and in Garland and Garland (2012). For ECER 2013, we explore theoretical tools available to help education research students foster a more deliberative, reflexive awareness of researcher identity formation, especially during formal doctoral training, through the combination of key theoretical concepts in understanding transitions and career trajectories with narrative, life history approaches.
Central to our work are key theoretical concepts in Bourdieu's work (habitus, capitals, field) in understanding the transition of educational professionals into the field of education research and especially his approach to reflexivity, understood as “a theory of intellectual practice as an integral component and necessary condition of a critical theory of society” (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 36). For Bourdieu, autobiographical work is not seen as an indulgence but as an essential aspect of intellectual work, where researchers subject their own positions and perspectives as researchers to the same level of scrutiny, using the same conceptual framework as is used in understanding the objects of the research. Using this approach to reflexivity, our work has explored the potential for learning about research practice by distributing the roles of researcher and researched amongst all participants in order to achieve maximum participant involvement. Thus, research practice is not only encountered in an abstract way through exposition of theory and procedure, but through the very practices that are to be theorised. We are mindful of Bourdieu’s advice on this account:
“Practice is always underestimated and under-analysed, and yet understanding it requires much theoretical competence, much more paradoxically, than understanding a theory. One has to avoid reducing practices to the idea one has of them when one’s only experience of them is logical.” (Bourdieu 2004: 39)
This comment in many ways encapsulates our twin aims of understanding methodology through participation in a research project whilst engaging all participants with the theoretical tools that both conceptualise the project methodology and the data outputs of participants (life history narratives and interviews). Bourdieu's own autobiographical texts (2004, 2007) serve as models for our understanding of reflexivity.
We see the form of enquiry we are engaged in as both science and communication. It is scientific in the way theory is used to develop and construct knowledge and it is communicative in that the narratives and interviews constitute genuine claims for recognition by participants. For this communicative aspect, we draw on the work of Habermas (1992, 2001), whom we see as offering great potential for the conduct of researcher development programmes (Garland 2012). Habermas emphasises the importance of second person relations and mutual recognition in processes of reaching mutual understanding over matters of truth and morality:
"In communicative action, the suppositions of self-determination and self-realisation retain a rigorously intersubjective sense ...... an identity that always remains mine, namely, my self-understanding as an autonomously acting and individuated being, can stabilise itself only if I find recognition as a person, and as this person." (Habermas, 1992: 192)
Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, J.D. (1992) An Invitation to reflexive sociology, Cambridge: Polity Press Bourdieu, P., (2004) Science of science and reflexivity, trans. Richard Nice, Cambridge: Polity Bourdieu, P. (2007) Sketch for a Self-Analysis, trans. Richard Nice, Cambridge: Polity Garland, P., (2012 online), What can the work of Habermas offer educational researcher development programmes? In Studies in Higher Education Volume 39, Number 5, available on line at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03075079.2011.644785 Garland,P. and Garland, I. (2012),"A participative research for learning methodology on education doctoral training programmes", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 3 Issue: 1 pp. 7 - 25 Habermas, J. (1992) Postmetaphysical thinking, trans. William Mark Hohengarten Cambridge: Polity Habermas, J., (2001) On the pragmatics of social interaction, trans. B. Fultner. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press
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