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CHAPTER EIGHT: How does a turn towards relational thinking influence consulting practice in organizations and groups?

Simon Clarke Karnac Books ePub

Karen Izod

Enter …

I am writing this chapter as an attempt to convey the kind of thinking that goes on in me as I work with individuals, groups, and organizations in challenging situations. It is a contribution from consulting practice that links with pieces of theory that have found some resonance with how I conceptualize my role as an organizational consultant. It is also a practice that resonates with my inner and outer worlds, which babble away in me as I am involved in making sense of the experiences of my client systems, the tasks they are engaged in, and myself in relation to them.

I see this as an opportunity to stimulate an exploration of issues arising from relational thinking, as it applies to working in, or consulting with, groups and organizations. I will outline what I understand to be “the Relational Turn”, and how I conceptualize it as a set of ideas that can address a capacity for negotiating the meaning and organization of relations while taking a position as an engaged individual.

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Researching beneath the surface: a psycho-social approach to research practice and method

Simon Clarke Karnac Books ePub

Researching beneath the surface: a psycho-social approach to research practice and method

Simon Clarke and Paul Hoggett

Since the 1990s, partly due to the impact of feminism, the social sciences have begun to change. Traditional models of human rationality, which opposed reason to passion, are being challenged. The preoccupation with language and cognition has started to give way to an equal interest in emotion and affect. The familiar split between “individual” and “society”, psychology and sociology, is now recognized as unhelpful to the study of both, and, as ways have been sought to overcome such splits, psychoanalysis has increasingly appeared in the breach.

Drawing also on some aspects of discourse psychology, continental philosophy, and anthropological and neuro-scientific understandings of the emotions, “psycho-social studies” has emerged as an embryonic new paradigm in the human sciences in the UK. Psycho-social studies uses psychoanalytic concepts and principles to illuminate core issues within the social sciences. These have recently included the role of loss and mourning in the constitution of community; the nature of identities such as “girl”, “white”, or “mother”; the experiences of rapid social change, particularly the experiences of the powerless; the negotiation of ethical dilemmas by public service professionals. Moreover, it has applied these concepts and principles in empirical research as well as theory building.

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Experiencing knowledge: the vicissitudes of a research journey

Simon Clarke Karnac Books ePub

Experiencing knowledge: the vicissitudes of a research journey

Haralan Alexandrov

“An explorer can never know what he is exploring until it has been explored”

(Bateson, 1972)

This chapter dwells on the epistemological, methodological, and ethical issues raised by the psycho-social approach to the study of organizational cultures. The theoretical reflections are inspired by the experience of the author as a participant in, and explorer of, the process of organizational change unfolding in the broader context of social, political, and cultural transformation in a transitional society. The methodology of psycho-social research is highlighted vis-à-vis the tradition of other hermeneutic disciplines such as reflexive sociology, interpretative ethnography, psychoanalytic studies, etc. The author arrives at the conclusion that, compared to other research traditions, psycho-social studies have unique investigative and explanatory as well as transformative potential.

By doing social research, one is involved in a process of knowledge production and is therefore confronted with the questions concerning the nature of knowledge and its relation to reality as it is experienced by the researcher (in the case of action research, also by the other participants in the process). Explicitly or implicitly, the researcher espouses a theory of knowledge which is not necessarily shared by the other participants. Explicating the epistemological foundations of one's knowledgeable engagement with certain field of study is, therefore, an important part of the research process, not only in terms of defending the validity claims of the findings, but also in terms of the strategic choices one makes in the research process and the mode of involvement with the object of study.

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Seeing ↔ believing, dreaming ↔ thinking: some methodological mapping of view points

Simon Clarke Karnac Books ePub

Seeing ↔ believing, dreaming ↔ thinking: some methodological mapping of view points

Lindsey Nicholls

“A point of view is inevitable; and the naïve attempt to avoid it can only lead to a self-deception, and to the uncritical application of an unconscious point of view” (Popper, 1966, p. 261)

The research I undertook examined the social defence mechanisms of occupational therapists in their everyday work with clients in an acute hospital department. The study used the processes Menzies Lyth (1988) had described in her seminal study of the nursing profession: observation, interviews, and inquiry groups. In doing the practical part of the study, I began to question how the method could help me explore what I did not know and what, because of the unconscious, I could not know. I used psychoanalytic theory as a basis for the study, which is the belief in the work of the unconscious in all that we do, say, or think.

I realized that, if the unconscious was active in the participants and researchers' lives, it might generate defensive patterns of engagement within the research process. How could I discover something “new” if I could only be aware of (or observe) what I already knew? What research methods would uncover the areas of the “unthought known” (Bollas, 1987) within the qualitative methods of interviews, observation, and reflexivity.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Artistic output as intersubjective third

Simon Clarke Karnac Books ePub

Lynn Froggett

Seeing the other in community-based practice

In Chapter Four, “Relational thinking and welfare practice”, Paul Hoggett argues that both classical liberal professionalism and its opponents who wish to see a less oppressive and more responsive welfare practice share a somewhat “thin” and idealized view of the supposedly rational and unitary welfare subject. The paternalistic stance of classical welfare, with its tendency to efface the particularity of the client, has been assailed by new social movements, user and advocacy groups that, in the name of diversity, have exposed the demeaning consequences of “top-down” welfare models and expert-led care. Under the banner of anti-oppressive practice, these critics of liberal welfare have struggled to create new spaces in which the people who use services can be seen and heard. A huge literature, which is partly underpinned by post-structuralist social science, has addressed the power relations that perpetuate inequality and oppression within welfare systems. However, Hoggett draws attention to the fact that something important eludes a welfare practice based on the micro-politics of power, and that derives from a shallow conception of the welfare subject who, positioned in the endless play of power relations, is seen as fundamentally inert, incapable of a desiring, resisting, creative, and destructive agency. How, then, might it be possible to “fill out the hollow welfare subject” so that they become a partner with depth, substance, and agency produced in a complex interplay of actual and phantasized social relations.

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