in search of meaning

I have to give credit to Scott and David (which you may feel free to interpellate as blame). 🙂
Scott, for telling me a month or so ago that Bickford’s book is amazing. It is. 🙂
And David, for asking me just over a week (!) ago if I was going to write about the blog for my paper. Duh! Truth is, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Was trying to do something uncharacteristic (“very different than your previous work”, so said Stephen back in the day), but which was gonna faciltate another project.
and we won’t mention how hard Stephen’s been riding my butt about making groups relevant to democracy…. 😉

I’ve just created three tables. A couple of things literally leap out at me, but – before I tell you what I think – I’m wondering if any of you would be so kind/interested as to take a peek and share your thoughts? I’m game for first impressions as well as any “conclusions” or “hypotheses” you might generate.
Additionally, I want to lay some ethical cards on the table. Here I am doing a (quasi?) ethnography “in retrospect”. Did you know you would become “subjects of study”? Certainly not in any kind of informed consent way. Those of you who know me (assuming you’re still willing to claim such!), especially those of you in Stephen’s class last spring probably aren’t completely surprised, but then again … last year I knew I was “on to something” immediately and did as much consent as possible. (If anyone wants a copy of the paper I wrote on the “problematic moment” I analyzed, I’m happy to share.)
So, now I’m in the position of knowing there’s “something” here, yet not having anticipated it and hence, not providing any kind of warning.
Seems kinda like a problem. :-/
Here’s my decision-making process so far:
a) use the blog because it’s public domain
b) use my notes (they’re mine)
c) email? I’d LIKE to use email but would feel better if I did get “consent”. Some of the things that matter (in terms of developing theory) are only evident from the email record (at least, so it seems to me at the moment).
d) a disclaimer – of course I’ve always HOPED the blog would turn into a participatory forum and I’ve been elated at the energy around it this fall (almost exclusively generated by this class); and I’ve always … intended? (that seems a bit strong, but “hoped” is a little too passive) … ah. I’ve desired that it would become a means for me to actively pursue empirical research on group dynamics and group discourses. It just didn’t “click” that this was transpiring until it was already ‘done’.
e) overview – what I want to write is more of a group discourse analysis, but/and, I don’t think discourse can be so neatly separated from dynamics. The (what seem to me) obvious empirically-arguable group dynamics have to do with roles, decision-making, and the exercise of power. I know I know I know (!) I’ve got to be extraordinarily attentive to the dangers of psychologizing. (And I’ve no doubt if I transgress in this regard I’ll be hearing about it!) My goal, if I can pull it off, is to link these aspects of group dynamics with the discourse(s) we enacted…my theoretical aim is interpellation and social metonymy, not psychology.
Whew. I hope this isn’t too long-winded (as you all work on completing your papers for Stephen too; assuming I’m not the only one pushing it to the wire!?)
Please, if you don’t mind, post comments:
1) consent to use email?
2) anything about the charts?
3) reactions/responses to the ethics
4) whatever else my friends, whatever else. 🙂

2 thoughts on “in search of meaning”

  1. Ethics? Well, I’m not at all concerned about subjecting myself to ethnographic curiosity, especially if it can tell me something new about me and my relation to my surroundings. Hence the only ethical “insight” I can offer you here: if you analyze me/us, I/we’ll want something in return! Tell us how we did! Did we conjure up anything resembling the democratic?

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