Tuesday, 25 January 2011

new perspectives on my inquiry...

Following hot on the heels of my last blog post, I needed to put some thoughts down before I was distracted. As often happens. But that's another topic. I attended the launch of a new 'cultural partnership' between Northumbria University and the RSA (last night, and it got me thinking, hence the post.

In case you're not familiar, the RSA describe themselves in the following way:
"For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action."

So - I mentioned the impact on my thinking. I've previously noted that the research process can involve multiple changes in perspective, 're framings' or lines of inquiry. One subtle but important shift for me is happening at the moment, or perhaps it is a realisation of something I always found important, but have not yet been too conscious of. 

As I listened to Mathew Taylor (Chief Executive of the RSA) and Professor Steven Kiffin talk about innovation, creativity, co-operation and so on I realised that these themes really resonated for me. For a further examination of these, follow the link provided above to the RSA site, it's one example of an inspiration (but that does not mean I've signed up to their whole agenda, as it's a broad collection of thinkers).

As I sat listening, I realised what I wanted to avoid in my narrative study into professional identity. I realised that rather than a static, historical, archaeological description of 'told professional lives' I wanted to capture some of that sense of innovation, creativity, improvisation and adaptation that I find in my own narrative in relation to circumstances. I realise this puts an emphasis on agency rather than the influence of structure (and I'm interested in narratives addressing the interplay of these) but it allowed me to think of a study that had some energy and movement. 

Of course, I've made a careful 'note to self' - which is that I want to work with the stories of others, and their meanings; but as someone who is locating himself in the narrative inquiry (and as someone who is shaping the research questions) I have at least found a fresh sense of connection and purpose to the study. What I don't know is how my own narrative will weave with the rest.