Why focus on individual action?

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  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • “ The method of participant observation… as its names suggests, involves researchers moving between participating in a community – by deliberately immersing themselves in its everyday rhythms and routines, developing relationships with people who can show and tell them what is ‘going on’ there, and writing accounts of how these relationships developed and what was learned from them – and observing a community – by sitting back and watching activities which unfold in front of their eyes, recording their impressions of these activities in field notes, tallies, drawings, photographs and other forms of material evidence” (Cook, in Flowerdew & Martin, 1997) “ The method of participant observation… as its names suggests, involves researchers moving between participating in a community – by deliberately immersing themselves in its everyday rhythms and routines, developing relationships with people who can show and tell them what is ‘going on’ there, and writing accounts of how these relationships developed and what was learned from them – and observing a community – by sitting back and watching activities which unfold in front of their eyes, recording their impressions of these activities in field notes, tallies, drawings, photographs and other forms of material evidence” (Cook, in Flowerdew & Martin, 1997)
  • Ethnography normally involves placing the researcher in an ‘other’ social group to find out about that different cultural amalgam – perhaps a group of bikers, or protesters or African tribe. However, ethnography can be far less exotic and far more everyday. Going out into ‘the field’ doesn’t need to involve getting on plane to far away places, the field can be closer to home than you think (see expanded field (Expanded field: Katz, 1994, Clifford, 1997; lifeworld Buttimer, Relph, Merleau-Ponty)Amit, V. (ed.) 2000 Constructing the Field. European Association of Social Anthropologists. Routledge. London & New York.). Ethnography therefore does not have to be about other social groups in far away places, it can be about our own groups in our own backyards, indeed, it can also be about ourselves in our own lives. This is when ethnography becomes autoethnography. Reed-Danahay, D. E. ed. (1997) Auto/Ethnography. Rewriting the Self and the Social. Berg. Oxford & New York. Reed-Danahay, D. E. Introduction pp1 2. the concept of autoethnography… reflects a changing conception of both the self and society in the late twentieth century (Cohen, 1994; Giddens, 1991). It synthesizes both a postmodern ethnography, in which the realist conventions and objective observer position of standard ethnography have been called into question, and a postmodern autobiography, in which the notion of the coherent, individual self has been similarly called into question. The term has a double sense – referring either to the ethnography of one’s own group or to autobiographical writing that has ethnographic interest. Thus, either a self (auto) ethnography or an autobiographical (auto) ethnography can be signalled by ‘autoethnography’.
  • This module requires you to become an auto-ethnographer, an autobiographer, to write the story of your approach to environmentalism and sustainable development, reflect on your positioning, philosophy and action in relation to these issues, and throughout the module, write reflective pieces that document, critique and reflect on the material you engage with (be it academic, policy, or from the media) and any actions they may move you to take in your everyday life. What motivates you to act in an sustainable way, to bring the ideas you come across in this SPEP course into practice, why do you do what you do (either in a green or non-green way), what obstacles are in your path, what makes it difficult (in terms of lifestyle, money, relationships, broader culture etc)? This module is interested in these personal experiences, in your reflecting on them and connecting them to the more policy and academic ideas that are more traditionally associated with postgraduate study. These ideas and broader societal structures are meant to change the world, so how effective are they in changing yours? Through autoethnography we can use ourselves as a research resource and get some evidence to answer this question. Important to note that although you will be marked on these reflective diary pieces, you will not be marked on how green you are. It will be possible to be really unsustainable in your actions – that is not way to get a good or bad grade in this module, how green you are is up to you – what is important is how you reflect, critique, identify problems that you encounter, or solutions you come with. Indeed, one of the things we want you to engage with are the tensions that are perhaps inevitable between trying to be green and the structures that impede this in the society we live in.
  • So in this module we want you to bring home the struggles tensions and interests in reconciling sd and environmentalism at the individual level into your own lives. We want you to record your experiences, adventures and just normal everyday life and how its possible to change, ignore, connect, struggle or be successful in implementing a more sustainable existence as students in Cardiff in 2008.
  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • These diaries do not have to be ‘academic’ in the sense that you have to write about them dispassionately. Far from it. We want you to position yourself right in the centre of them, write about your own experiences, in your own style and tone, but bring to them a range of sources and ideas and reflections from the material you come across in the module and elsewhere (academic, policy or media).
  • Not necessarily an easier thing to do than write an essay: You could think about what in your own life has bought you to this study”, I suggest. “and perhaps even tell your own story. You could record your own experiences of the interview, and how you have been affected by observing and studying them” “ The goal is to practise an artful, poetic, and empathic, social science in which researchers can keep in their minds and feel in their bodies. The complexities of concrete moments of life experience. These writers want readers to be able to put themselves in the place of others, with the culture of experience that enlarges the social awareness and empathy. Their goals include: one, evoking emotional experience in readers; two, giving voice to stories and groups of people traditionally left out of social scientific enquiry; three, producing writing of high literary/artistic quality; and four, improving readers, participants, and author's lives“ (Ellis, 2005:30)
  • So, to reiterate: Moss, P. (ed.) (2001) Placing Autobiography in Geography. Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York State. Moss, P. Writing one’s life. 1-22 3 I decided to use myself as a source of information. ...I wanted to use my experience the way [I would] use theirs – to elaborate empirical links with concepts… Not a narcissistic, navel gazing exercise, but an novel attempt to inform theory through our own practices: Ch6 You want to be careful you don’t end up like Ian. He’s all over the place’ Cook, Ian. 99-120 120 What have you ‘learned’ from reading it [this]? Not much about ‘me’, I hope. Its not a me-me-me-me-me-me-me-type narrative. Is it? I think it’s an it-me-them-you-here-me-that-you-there-her-us-then-so- … narrative. It’s an ‘expanded field’ thing. And you’re in it too. Aren’t you?
  • Initial Ideas for Field Diary Reflections Thomashow, M. 1995 Ecological Identity. Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist. MIT Press: Cambridge MA, London. 114 I advise people to search their life histories by attending to the following types of questions: - in what circumstances do you act in accordance with your values? - what motivates you to act on public issues? - when do you feel most politically empowered? - when do you experience political apathy? - what political actions cause you to be frustrated or to feel fulfilled? - what do you consider to be worthwhile political participation? - are there institutions that facilitate this? - are there modalities of civic participation that best reflect your political temperament? - what does this tell you about how you should become involved in the future? - what would you consider as you first political act?
  • Placing the Individual in Social Science Research... How to do research on the individual? One way: Ethnography – “ ethnography provides unreplicable insight into the processes and meanings that sustain and motivate social groups” (Herbert, 2000:550).
  • Why focus on individual action?

    1. 1. CPT737: Sustainability in Practice <ul><li>Lecture 1: Introduction to the </li></ul><ul><li>Module, the Subject and the </li></ul><ul><li>Approach </li></ul><ul><li>Jon Anderson and Richard Cowell </li></ul><ul><li>( [email_address] , cowellrj@cf.ac.uk) </li></ul>
    2. 2. A central concern with individual action to promote sustainability RC <ul><li>Functional reasons: individuals and their consumption, travel, etc, seen as a major cause of un sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical reasons (1): sociologists contend that society has become increasingly individualised (Beck), anxious and reflexive </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical reasons (2): ideologies of neo-liberalism place increased responsibility for welfare and achieving societal goals on the individual </li></ul>
    3. 3. Approach to teaching and learning RC <ul><li>Two hour session each Friday </li></ul><ul><li>Thematic interest in self-monitoring and auto-ethnography … </li></ul>
    4. 4. Placing the Individual in Social Science Research JA <ul><li>How to do research on the individual? One way is through ETHNOGRAPHY </li></ul><ul><li>“ ethnographic research has developed out of a concern to understand the world and ways of life of actual people from the ‘inside’, in the contexts of everyday, lived experiences” (Cook, in Flowerdew & Martin, 1997) </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ In its most characteristic form it involves the ethnographer participating, overtly or covertly, in people’s daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions – in fact, collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the focus of the research” (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The basic purpose in using these methods is to understand parts of the world as they are experienced and understood in the everyday lives of people who actually ‘live them out’” (Cook & Crang, 1994:4) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Auto-Ethnography JA <ul><li>Autoethnography: research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political. </li></ul><ul><li>Autoethnographic forms feature concrete action, emotion, embodiment, self-consciousness, and introspection... (Ellis, 2004: XIX). </li></ul>
    7. 7. Being an auto-ethnographer JA <ul><li>write the story of your approach to environmentalism and sustainable development, </li></ul><ul><li>reflect on your positioning, philosophy and action in relation to these issues, </li></ul><ul><li>write reflective pieces that document, critique and reflect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>on the material you engage with (be it academic, policy, or from the media) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and any actions they may move you to take in your everyday life. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>engage with the tensions that are perhaps inevitable when trying to be green </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ environmentalists lead lives of contradiction” (Thomashow, 1995:161) </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. <ul><li>“ highlight...the tensions, contradictions, uncertainties, and ambiguities of constructing an ecological identity in the shifting terrains of post-modern life. It is not easy to navigate this terrain, balancing conflicting feelings about technology, politics, faith, nature, and humans. …There are no easy answers, comprehensive programs, or miraculous blueprints that will guide us smoothly to an ecotopian future. Becoming a reflective environmentalist brings happiness and struggle, liberation and suffering. Many of the questions I raise remain unresolved” (Thomashow, 1995:XV). </li></ul>
    9. 9. Approach to teaching and learning RC <ul><li>This interest in autoethnography is reflected in how we will be teaching, and the assessment: </li></ul><ul><li>Small blocks of traditional lecturing </li></ul><ul><li>Issue readings or other items for you to look at between sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Use of focus groups – need for informed consent </li></ul><ul><li>Field Study Visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth </li></ul>
    10. 10. Assessed Work: Reflective Journal/Field Diaries JA <ul><li>“ some kind of record to how the research progresses, day by day, and to chart how the researcher comes to certain (mis)understandings. Diaries should represent the doubts, fears, concerns, feelings, and so on that the researcher has at all stages of her/his work” (from Cook & Crang, 1995:29). </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>“ It's amazingly difficult. It's certainly not something that most people can do well. Social scientists usually don't write well enough. Or they are not sufficiently introspective about their feelings or motives, or the contradictions they experience. Ironically, many are not observant enough of the world around them. The self questioning autoethnography demands is extremely difficult. Often you confront things about yourself that are less than flattering” (Ellis, 2004:XVIII) </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>“ I decided to use myself as a source of information. ...I wanted to use my experience the way [I would] use theirs – to elaborate empirical links with concepts…” (Moss, 2001:3) </li></ul><ul><li>“ What have you ‘learned’ from reading it [my auto-ethnographic diary]? Not much about ‘me’, I hope. Its not a me-me-me-me-me-me-me-type narrative. Is it? I think it’s an it-me-them-you-here-me-that-you-there-her-us-then-so- … narrative. It’s an ‘expanded field’ thing. And you’re in it too. Aren’t you?” (Cook, in Moss, 2001:120) </li></ul>
    13. 13. Initial Ideas for Field Diary Reflections (from Thomashow, 1995) JA <ul><li>- in what circumstances do you act in accordance with your values? </li></ul><ul><li>- what motivates you to act on public issues? </li></ul><ul><li>- when do you feel most politically empowered? </li></ul><ul><li>- when do you experience political apathy? </li></ul><ul><li>- what political actions cause you to be frustrated or to feel fulfilled? </li></ul><ul><li>- what do you consider to be worthwhile political participation? </li></ul><ul><li>- are there institutions that facilitate this? </li></ul><ul><li>- are there modalities of civic participation that best reflect your political temperament? </li></ul><ul><li>- what does this tell you about how you should become involved in the future? </li></ul><ul><li>- what would you consider as you first political act? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Reflective journal RC <ul><li>No more than 3600 words: six entries of about 600 words; option of two entries MAX using video (4 mins max per entry) </li></ul><ul><li>The key is reflection, not description </li></ul><ul><li>Scope to use supplementary illustrative material </li></ul><ul><li>Please send two draft entries by Friday 18 th March for interim feedback: cowellrj@cf.ac.uk </li></ul><ul><li>Deadline for reflective journal, Wednesday 18 th May 2010 </li></ul>

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