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CHAPTER SEVEN: The importance of relational thinking in the practice of psycho-social research: ontology, epistemology, methodology, and ethics

Karnac Books ePub

Wendy Hollway

Introduction

The object relations and relational psychoanalytic traditions can have a profound effect on the practices of social science research and, in the UK, this is taking place largely in the tradition that has come to be called “psycho-social”. My own research practice has been moving in this direction for some time, and it has become evident to me that the use of psychoanalytic concepts that derive from the object relations and relational traditions have radical effects on every aspect of research. By every aspect, I refer first to the substantive analysis of phenomena that have social and psychological aspects (which surely includes most phenomena of interest to social science). I also refer to the trio of principles informing research that I refer to in the title of this chapter as ontology (how the person as subject of research is theorized), epistemology (how the status of the knowledge generation process is understood), and methodology (how these together inform how the researcher goes about finding out). Not in the title, but also implicated, is the subject of research ethics. After an outline of the project that I use as an illustration, subsequent sections of this chapter deal with ontology, epistemology, methodology, and research ethics.

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CHAPTER TWO: Democratizing psychoanalysis

Karnac Books ePub

Susie Orbach

Relational routes in (mainly) British psychoanalysis

From the 1930s to the 1970s, there was an extraordinary intellectual flowering within psychoanalysis. The Balints, object relations theory, Winnicott, Fairbairn, Guntrip, Bowlby and attachment theory, the work of R. D. Laing and his colleagues, the anti-psychiatry movement, all attempted to resituate and recast what psychoanalysis had turned into. Then, Independents such as Bollas and Rycroft, contemporary Freudians such as the Sandlers and Fonagy, the clinical and theoretical innovations of The Women's Therapy Centre, Nafsyat and other equally radical therapy initiatives, all these different tendencies focused on the actual experience of patients, their history, and the ways in which intrapsychic development was an outcome of the internalizations of relationships they had experienced from the earliest moment of their entry into the world.

This emphasis on the actual, has swept through nearly all psychoanalytic schools: Jungian, Object Relations, contemporary Freudian, Kohutian. It was always the basis, in the USA, of the work of the Interpersonalists, the Intersubjectivists, and of latterly what has become known as the Relational School. (Of course, similar developments within humanistic psychotherapy were also occurring.) The emphasis on the actual has dovetailed with the work of infant researchers, Mahler, Bergman, and Pine; Stern; Trevarthen; Beebe; and Steele and Steele, who have been demonstrating the very active, relationship-seeking requisites of the baby and the ways in which the character of parental responses structures the infant's relation to self. Beebe's work in particular, which scrutinizes the frame-by-frame of mother–baby interactions, shows the intricate play between mother and infant, the efforts the baby makes to engage the mother, the way the baby responds to the mother's initiatives and the emotional impact of failing attempts to engage with each other.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Artistic output as intersubjective third

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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CHAPTER SIX: Psycho-social research: relating self, identity, and otherness

Karnac Books ePub

Simon Clarke

I n this chapter, I explore the nature of psycho-social research, its origins, development, and its importance in contemporary social science research, in particular when applied to areas such as cultural identities and Otherness. There is something quite distinct about a psycho-social approach to social research; it is more an attitude, a position towards the subject of study rather than one methodology (see Clarke, 2006). Psycho-social research can be seen to be part of a group of methodologies that point towards a distinct position. These may entail the analysis of group dynamics, observation, or a detailed reading of the co-construction of the research environment between participants (we are all participants) and researchers. For me, and this is very much my own personal journey, the most important element of psycho-social research is that it does not reduce to either social or psychic; there is no duality, the two are so related they are inseparable, or at least we cannot talk about one without the other.

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CHAPTER NINE: Inquiry as relational practice: thinking relationally about the practice of teaching and learning

Karnac Books ePub

Margaret L. Page

Introduction

What conditions are needed and what conceptual tools required in order for the consultant/educator to enable clients and students to creatively explore tensions that present themselves as polarities? What might relational thinking offer to educators and consultants who wish to develop this capacity? This chapter takes up these questions and explores them through examples drawn from experiences of teaching and learning within management education. Taking up the themes explored by Karen Izod, it draws from the work of Jessica Benjamin and from current research on experiential teaching and learning to explore difficulties and opportunities of inquiry-based teaching and learning within contexts where instrumental approaches predominate. Finally, it returns to the question: so what is special or radical about relational thinking? What is its potential or actual contribution to teaching and learning in university-based management education programmes?

In the first section, I offer an introduction to relational theory and practice, as an application of inquiry-based learning and teaching. This is developed in the three illustrations that follow. The first of these is a co-mentoring relationship that enabled teaching staff to sustain an inquiring stance in relation to Masters level students, and to resist institutional pressures to adopt a more instrumental approach. The second and third sections also relate to Masters level students, this time in the context of a programme that is experiential and based on peer learning. Two vignettes are offered that explore how relational thinking offered a way of making sense, in reflection after the event, of the challenges of sustaining inquiry in the context described. The final section draws together reflections on these experiences to consider what relational thinking might offer to inquiry practice. More specifically, it explores its potential contribution to working with the difficulties and opportunities of management learning in the current UK context, where pressure is intense to stick to instrumental approaches.

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