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Title: Exploring systemic positioning in everyday conversations in communities : an embodied reflexive inquiry
Author: Mahaffey, Helen
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2013
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This is a systemic practice doctorate where research is undertaken through a social and relational constructionist lens (McNamee and Hosking, 2012) under a broader umbrella of systemic qualitative research practice. A philosophical orientation to inquiry is taken, offering a way of exploring encounters, and specifically conversations in practice, in an embodied relational and dialogical way from within the experience. This locates me as an active participant alongside other active participants, and self- and relational reflexivity feature centrally within a systemic approach to practice and inquiry. The specific inquiry focus is on embodied, reflexive processes as I engage with others in everyday conversations on issues that matter to different professional and non-professional individuals and community groups; it is a complex ecology. Systemic, embodied, relational concepts are explored through a lens that sees inquiry as philosophically informed. This acknowledges the professional, personal and multiple contexts that inform both the doing and being in each conversation within practice and inquiry. The multi-versa of individuals and groups, professional and non-professional are examined through attention to moments of conversation portrayed through vignettes and dialogical excerpts. I try to capture a sense of the living dynamic of each of the interactions through attention to my multi-vocal inner dialogue and the multiplicity of felt experiences within these conversations where I am moved, stirred, unsettled and fully embodied: I become the case study in the ebbs and flows of this experience. How I inform these processes, and how I am informed by the responses of others, comes under close scrutiny. Attention is given to reciprocal responses, my internal dialogue, as I respond to what has gone before, external moves within these relational unfolding conversational encounters, how the conversation is experienced by those involved, and how we move on together. This inquiry focuses on embodied relational processes within the multiple complex dynamic of these conversations, unpacking our ways of ‘going on’ together (Wittgenstein, 1953). Autoethnography (Finlay, 2002; Ellis, 2004; Etherington, 2004), self- and relational reflexivity (1992), Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) (Pearce, 1994), and the process of writing itself are some of the concepts employed to enter this complexity. The unique additional inquiry tool introduced, alongside these, is the personal metaphor of rock climbing. This is chosen because of the fit I consider it has within a conceptual frame of relational embodiment, emphasising the ‘I’, a systemic practitioner and climber, as an embodied being with other embodied beings in conversation. I enter this process of inquiry with openness to enable change and to be changed, and I hope to challenge some established ideas about research. I consider the extent to which the metaphor illuminates embodied, self- and relationally reflexive processes in the context of systemic inquiry. The usefulness and application of this metaphor is tested as an embodied reflexive tool. I explore whether ways of thinking about and understanding embodied relational and dynamic processes can be extended. New features that come to light in the process of this inquiry are explored and the insights that may emerge, along with possible contributions to systemic inquiry and practice, are considered. The wider use of metaphors emerging through the dialogue that people offer to describe experience and to capture a sense of lived moments opens further potential for new learning. The reflexive scope and use of metaphor generally is discussed at the end, along with personal and professional learning from the process of writing and inquiry. I propose a new lens to reflexive inquiry that is suited to systemic practice, embodied reflexive inquiry in which I draw attention to embodied reflexive detailed features within interactions between people. This has wide-ranging applications in systemic and other contexts, including community settings, systemic therapy, training and supervision and across different professional networks, and is explored here. My hope is that this inquiry will to add to the growing field of systemic inquiry texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: systemic practice ; Inquiry ; self-reflexivity ; embodiment ; openness ; process ; relational reflexivity ; reflexivity ; C880 Social Psychology