Seminars for 2012/13
22 February 2012: The other side of methodology: a case study of unconscious relations in academic practice (Open Seminar)
Claudia Lapping from Faculty of Children and Learning, Institute of Education
At 17:00 in 1N1.4.1.
Abstract: The other side of This paper is based on a 3 year ESRC funded study investigating knowledge practices in higher education. The aim of the study was to enhance understandings of unconscious, psychical relations within institutionalized disciplinary practices in the humanities and social sciences. The methodology was informed by psychoanalytic approaches, with participants (8 academics in the humanities and social sciences) each taking part in 8 interviews over a period of up to two years. Prior to each interview participants selected a text that in some way represented their disciplinary interests. Within the interviews participants reflected on their choice of text and their thoughts and feelings about it.
This paper constitutes a detailed case study of interviews with one participant. It develops an analysis of metaphorical repetitions of psychical structures within their account of their academic practice. It traces, for example, the way chains of disavowals constituted and disrupted identifications with authoritative methodological positions, and how these disavowals were articulated in relation to signifiers of significant colleagues, concepts or theoretical positions. These psychical relations to methodological positions were also echoed in the participant's relation to minoritized identities and the visceral pleasures and anxieties associated with occupying a position outside the majoritarian cultural/disciplinary realm. The analysis explores the way relations to others within the field seemed to articulate both a need to conform to the desire of the other, but also the pain and loss required in order to achieve this, suggesting the flows and blockages of emotion that permeate intellectual work.
Overall, the analysis develops a picture of the metaphorical repetition of complex and often contradictory psychical relations in the production of a disciplinary identity. It is suggestive, I would argue, of the powerful unconscious forces underlying the rationalized methodological procedures of disciplinary knowledge formations.
Claudia Lapping is Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, University of London. She is interested in the development of psychosocial methodologies and her research draws on sociological and psychoanalytic approaches to explore knowledge practices in higher education. She is author of 'Psychoanalysis in Social Research: shifting theories and reframing concepts', Routledge, 2011.
This event is open to the general public.
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