Sunday, 20 March 2011

'unfreezing' writing and thinking

Putting together that crazy theory Venn diagram (see previous post) helped me; I wished I could have changed it almost straight away. That's not so bad, because it gave me forward momentum. It felt like creating a painting (I've done a few of those, too): you have to make the mark in order to stand back and see if it works. With the Venn diagram, I recognised (after a chat with my office mate) that I was becoming confident about the 'big picture' theoretical frame. I like the tension the pairing of symbolic interactionism and cultural historical activity theory gives me. A sort of Mead / Marx synthesis, if you like. 

Work on that synthesis is ongoing, of course and I'm reading Sheldon Stryker's (1980) "Symbolic Interactionism". I'm going to write some notes on it this week in my own Evernote way because I like the way it addresses what I think can be an overemphasis on agency over structure. I also guess it's challenged me to read about comtemporary developments - since 1980 - in the field. That's one 'track' with some momentum. 

I have been 'stuck' on the other part of the Venn diagram - the two smaller shapes, relating to 'sensemaking' literature and theories of adult learning, particularly Wenger. I'm not sure about whether it is those two that will help, but I've come to realise (I think) that Symbolic Interactionism and Activity Theory are great for 'big picture' framing, but I may need some conceptual 'tools' to work with the details at that point of overlap. If you remember (and hey, why should you?) I'm starting to focus on the ways in which individuals use social objects they name from their professional situation. This means that I'll be looking at mechanisms, processes and so on. I suspect neither of my 'frameworks' (by the nature of being frameworks) will help there. It might be that 'sensemaking' or theories of learning may do that, but we will see. To get past this little roadblock, I've realised (as my brain has bubbled away in between things) that the key here is to think about that idea of *using* social objects to shape identity and what sort of activity - and understanding what exactly I want to know. It's the 'peeling the onion' thing again.
I'm glad I wrote about that, because I'm sick of a draft journal article I've written. At least I can remind myself that I am making progress. The blasted draft article was needed for a professional qualification and I thought - hey, kill two birds with one stone - but it's become a frustration. It's become something I should do. Oh no. It will help me write, but it's not on the theme of my PhD. The thing is, I talk about process all the time, but I love to have a product. Think I just need to keep going in the right direction, even if it's slow! 

In the meantime, I'm loving Inger Mewburn's great Prezi on writing an article in seven days. It has helped me so much. It's all about moving forward and not giving up.