Monday, August 18, 2008

indefinite obects; elusive objects; or studying candyfloss in the rain

Law talks of how a 'committment to visible singularity' is a limitation on (orthodox) research. When what is observed shapeshifts, the singular entity metaphor becomes visible because it does not fit the data seen. And instead of blaming sloppy research or researchers or research methods, they argue for seeing practice as multiple rather than definite and accepting that in these realities, the object of study too may be multiple. Whats visible, definite vs whats invisible or multiple, or fractional with partial overlaps might then be studied.
That this is not a shoddy piece of research nor a failure to get to grips with something definite, nor an inconsistent or incoherent description from research participants, but is instead the nature of what is the object of study.
While this does remind me of Lewis Carrol and the hunting of the snark, it is also my experience of trying to be definite about counselling in my study of how it is altered by use of different mediums. (small aaarghh here, what on earth am i doing trying to get a handle on an indefinite object and then what do i think I am doing when said indefinite object is altered in different mediums, by multiple different players. The AAARGHH just got bigger or the snarks are closing in on me and I'm on the wrong side the a counselling relationship).
I am a little more settled with Mol's and de Laat's story of the bushpump, where its very success is dependent on it being a fluid object. But at least they had something tangible to point to, a concrete object with ongoing alterations. The indefinite communication skill set called counselling is considerably less definite.
I feel like I'm studying candyfloss, I can point to it, taste it, but i wouldnt want to study it outside on a wet day. New Zealanders, esp from the Westcoast, know greywackey, a stone that crumbles if handled too much and dissolves down to a silt like mud when left in water.
Standard research method does not seem to do justice to a nebulous entity. Certain kinds of reality are imposed. Politics of what is/isnt accepted, investigated, valued, othered.
Certain realities are reconfigured when forced into the written text.

Watch this space; a doc thess preprd 2 test boundrz usin txt

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