Monday, January 28, 2008

Dont be polite, bite it.

Prelude: this blog is impolite, at least in academia.
I practice my writing style as if i were another.
I fully acknowledge that I lean heavily on the writing of Anne Marie Mol for providing ideas and structure as i explore the use of her writing as if it were to apply to text, email, or the Internet for counselling.
All errors of understanding are my own.

Section title: Telling it like it is.
This is a social science exploration of a network, one involved in youth oriented counselling. However before proceeding too far, the use of the word network needs to be clarified. the meaning called on here is less about "the net" or the links between people. The emphasis is instead on the network . That is, the work entailed in how counselling is shaped, what work goes into configuring counselling when the medium shifts: when it involves text, email and Internet for counselling. this is a story less about connecting wires or even wireless connections, it is instead a story about work practices. And one might not even want to call it a story for there is no smooth narrative, there is no one tangent of beginning to end, instead I present a juxtaposition of many stories, snapshots on a theme showing contrasts and performances of counselling.

Who is at work also needs unbundling. For counselling does not happen in a vacuum. 'Counsellor and counsellee' coexist in relationship and the 'work' is a dynamic that occurs in relationship. Contributing to this work are the participants, but also computer and communication technologies. In the use of such technologies, participants engage differently. Whether talking and listening, or by hand and type, reading and sight. The heterogeneous factors involved are further unbundled, the work involves more than the obvious players of counselor and counsellee, there is also the work involved in making the media available for using for counselling, the cellphones, the PCs. It is this unbundling of the work involved in supporting the counselling moment that the fuller picture of what it is to provide counselling using new media is able to be discerned. This matters because how counselling occurs is changing. And the changes are not always anticipated or known.

Discerning the heterogenous factors allows me to tell about counselling. The stories told will not be about social causes resulting in social needs, or about pathology, diseases or disabilities as requiring healthcare. Nor about any specific form of counselling having precedence over another. There are those who have gone to a lot of trouble in arguing the supremacy of one over another. This thesis will not contribute to such debate of domains conquered or of forms of counselling deemed to be holding supermacy. Instead i will talk of practice. Practice as it is experienced.

This shift to praxiology is not a naive abandonment of epistemology but is an appreciation of reality; "telling it like it is". Telling it like it is, is situated. I do not talk of what counselling is by nature, nor what form it could or should take. I will not bracket what is counselling from what is not, nor focus on the counselling skills. For in practice what is counselling shifts. In practice 'what is' is altered. The ontological genre of 'what is' shape shifts. In part this is altered in response to the media utilized. It is this shapeshifting that is therefore explored.

The praxiographic 'is' is not universal, it is situated, it is local, and it requires spatial specification. What is empathy when it is experienced face to face is different to when conveyed audibly by phone and different again when conveyed by text. How do I experience being heard or listened to when the conversation is inaudible, when the conversation only occurs in text? the trouble taken by counselling texts and authors is not wasted but is absorbed into enactments. The enactment of counselling practice via phone, text and Internet is then explored as situated relationships. What the is the art of the spoken or written form, the act of counselling when it is shaped by the media used and the actors involved? This is the substance explored in this thesis.


  1. I've looked at this a few days later and i like it. The writing style is 'punchy', in some ways its direct, that is, it feels like I'm being talked to- or that the author is thinking aloud. Apart from a few grammatical errors. I plan to continue.

  2. It's also a little Talebish, empirical - maybe needs a tad more skepticism to qualify to pick up the Taleb tag. Am reading the black Swan which is hilarious, arrogant and wonderfully irreverent.