Whose Autoethnography Is It, Anyway?

self-hidingI am always so appreciative of the insights my (distant) colleague Kip offers, especially when he comments on my blog or Tweets, and otherwise offers such insightful thoughts and words for the wise. His comment earlier today is among the best (thank you, Kip!), and with delicious humor and tongue-in-cheek (or some such), he raises a wonderful point about autoethnographic dissertations. While I already replied to his thoughts here, I do want to clarify my (developing) research direction a bit.

I like the framework of Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (cf, Meyer and Land), as this focuses on forms of learning, as well as Jack Mezirow’s framework of Transformative Learning). I cannot envision I am alone in blogging (Tweeting, etc.) about my worldview shifts and other strong experiences while engaging in my academic work (yes, others do this as well!!). Whether they do this for self-reflection or autoethnographic purposes I am not sure yet, but they do this. I wonder how processing these sorts of experiences affects the concept of self-identity? What does it mean to share this with others and gather their input? To what extent does a sense of community influence the outcome? If done explicitly as an a/e, and if there is other input and sharing / collaboration, whose autoethnography is it, anyway?

I feel my (module’s) research purpose, problem, and question are all very close . . .

15 thoughts on “Whose Autoethnography Is It, Anyway?

  1. ‘The medium is the message’.
    Learn to enjoy swimming in the data.
    A PhD is a bit like Wagner. You are going to have to struggle for a long time before the final chord and resolution.

    1. Not so sure about that – my take is rather that message is mediated and while we are swimming at times we may also just flow with the data at other points. Perhaps Sibelius rather than Wagner.

  2. Kip-

    Thank you (as always!) for the feedback.

    Not sure if I agree with Marshall McLuhan there, though I think his work does raise our awareness quite a bit, certainly further away from the objective and at time neutral understanding which has been common.

    I have become surprised, quite honestly, with how much I am enjoying research itself — the design, thinking about the framework, etc. Never thought of myself as a (potentially) budding qualitative methodologist 😉

    Saw The Ring earlier this year. Love Wagner!

  3. Britta,
    You dont grasp the metaphor. Wagner makes his audience wait, sometimes for hours, for a resolution to what he has been setting up. Sibelius is not the same.

  4. Swimming in the data, in opposition to being battered to and fro by the undertow or enormity of any project.

    These are metaphors to help you understand the research process, not points for argument or debate, certainly not opinion. Those are the methods of those new to academic research who quickly grasp the ‘language’ of whatever happens to be current or popular and parrot it back. Instead, the point is to learn to think for yourselves.

    Now I would like to think about getting ready for my holiday. Over and very out.

    1. Makes an excellent illustration of the power issues I mentioned earlier in my blog – who defines what is subject to debate and what is excluded or who selects the metaphors for which purpose are exactly the points so often dismissed as inconvenient truths. You make the most of it, Jeffrey – and the audiences will evaluate it.

      1. I select my own metaphors for my own words.
        Your instance on returning to a ‘power’ debate only seems to indicate your lack of experience in ‘doing’ research and producing outputs. Foucault is so sophmoric and over-blown at this point that it has become tedious and not very helpful, at least in the hands of novices.
        You seem to feel more comfortable in the common room ‘debating’ with others like yourself than perhaps hearing from someone else who does not share your opinion, but has produced work, not just ruminated about the process of producing it. If this is the ‘power’ that you are so concerned about, then get to work and produce your own ‘power base’ and stop attacking others for doing there’s.
        Jeffrey has asked me for my take and my experience in this forum. I am not interested in your opinions or insults, Britta; I have no idea who you are or what your own ‘power’ agenda is. You certainly seem to have one, judging by your insistance on being hyper-critical of my posts.
        You posts here are borderline offensive. Please refrain from addressing me here or elsewhere again.

        1. Thanks for further illustration of power in academia, and some personal results on top. Impressive bullying – and lack of constructive debating skills with unknown internet users.

  5. Taking up an earlier point, Jeffrey – if you want to see some more open debate on power issues in methodological contexts and the broader politics of academia I strongly recommend to submit another abstract for the next AoIR conference, they are open to these kind of discussions and embrace challenging ideas.

  6. Too bad, Jeffrey, I see I replied rather than commented – amusing turns and twist, will have added to your data collection quite nicely 😉 hope you don’t take offence, otherwise, just let me know.

  7. Does it turn the debate into something more fruitful when you turn to personal insults? I doubt that but it is one way of coping, I can acknowledge this – no, there is no need to have the last word, that’s just a restriction inbuilt in blogging technology. All the very best.

    1. The position that you seem to have missed in my posts earlier is that I do not engage in debate; I find it a useless waste of energy and time. I prefer to put my energies into producing work. I agree with my mentor and hero, Ken Gergen, when he said: “I have resigned from the debating society”.
      I am happy to have discussions with others regarding their own work and mine, but will not put myself in a position of opposition just to prove a point. Argument for arguments sake, iow.

      You seem to enjoy this. I do not. It is as simple as that. No need to insult me for trying to add to the discussion here by disagreement, vitriolic statements and opposition for opposition’s sake. These simply have no value for me in discussion or in my work.

      Good luck; I look forward to seeing the work that your position produces.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed the comments between Kip and Britta here on this post. As I value both your thoughts and frameworks (seemingly from different perspectives), it is so helpful to see and experience passion and active engagement to encourage me while working on my design. From research to practice and back again!

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