So... In something of a panic, ‘Document 1’ was submitted shortly before the 23rd June deadline. My Journal suddenly stops at that point, and I must now resume it. In the first Workshop related to ‘Document 3’ this weekend, I am reminded (by a recent DArch graduate who came to speak of her experience of the programme) how important these reflections are – and indeed, glancing through the pages completed to date, I see what a long way I’ve come (and I mustn’t forget to revisit these pages to pick up valuable tips and references for incorporation into Document 2 in a couple of months’ time).
Two months to go, and I’ve only written about 2000 words out of the 15,000 total required: very anxious about when I’ll find the time to do this. I’ve had only two supervision tutorials (having had nothing to show that would have made additional ones worthwhile), but neither Tom nor Kevin seem to share my anxiety.
The tutorials were very helpful, of course, and I realised that I were to arrange more of them, I’d give myself a tighter framework of deadlines within which to achieve the overall target. Writing this journal now, of course, represents another instance of postponing the main job of getting on with the writing, but it feels appropriate – just before I tackle the main drag upwards – to review what I’ve produced and read since July:
19.05.15: Google Scholar search – an initial foray into the domain to practise gathering some references (with notes on each reading).
11.06.15: Bibliographies – a print-out of articles saved in RefWorks (pending attachment to text via Write-N-Cite software).
13.07.15: Literature Review 1 – a false start, comprising some 960 words on the use of Latour as the basis for selection and critique of literature (suggesting in particular that I should be able to construct my Document 2 out of this Blog – had I only maintained it): I tell myself it’s not too late – this catch-up exercise I’m now undertaking marks the belated start.
15.07.15: Spare material – some text that could not be accommodated in Doc1, notably a paragraph attempting to locate Latour within postmodernist approaches to social research.
17.07.15: Doc2 structure A – another false start, using the template required for the final product but getting no further than suggesting a six-part structure based entirely upon Machi and McEvoy’s ‘The Literature Review – Six Steps to Success’ before actually reading the text: it turned out that only the sixth ‘step’ actually described the process of reviewing literature – most of the remainder of the book related to a systematic way of gathering the information, speed-reading first (a highly linear approach, quite alien to a slow and steady reader like myself though a good suggestion).
August: Holiday reading (in addition to Latour’s ‘Reassembling the Social’ and Machi & McEvoy) consisted of a) Latour, Harman and Erdélyi: The Prince and the Wolf. b) Harman: Prince of Networks. c) Wates and Knevitt: Community Architecture. I also took a whole pile of hard-copy articles which were never tackled.
19.09.15: Reflections on Workshop 2.2 – Workshop 2.2 reflections contain a good quantity of other material that it would be appropriate to review before proceeding any further with the main text of Doc2 (including my programme for its production, in relation to which I am now about 2 months behind). Also containing some material that could usefully have been posted immediately in the Blog:
Unsure about how to organize the content of Doc 2, I have very carefully read Machi & McEvoy ‘The Literature Review – 6 Steps to Success’ (which I found quite tedious and incomprehensibly repetitive for the most part, but persuasive in terms of the recommendation not immediately to start writing but to spend a lot of effort first identifying and organizing my data). What the book omitted to address, however, is the integration of the required epistemological or philosophical base – where am I coming from? In this respect, the book’s recommended approach presents me with one major, seemingly insurmountable, obstacle. My chosen theoretical paradigm is the French sociologist Bruno Latour, whose ideas have struck me with a shock of recognition: here’s someone who’s saying exactly what I’ve been thinking for years, occasionally suggesting verbally, but which I’ve never before encountered in writing: two ideas in particular – first, the inadmissibility of connections between cause and effect, and secondly unwillingness to take for granted any such nebulous totalitarianising ideas as ‘society’, ‘community’ etc (one ought instead to be identifying combinations of factors, without presuming to coordinate them under the umbrella of some theoretical, non-material concept). On reading Latour, I experience Fredric Jameson’s ‘postmodern sublime’: its appalling and terrifying and gloriously exciting all at the same time. It’s rooted in materialism pragmatism, realism – but it requires me to avoid the habitual temptation to make logical connections between evidence and thesis. I worry that I will find it difficult to be critical about an author whose thoughts coincide so closely with my own, and whose every well-chosen word commands both respect and enjoyment: how will I critique my own paradigm?
21.09.15: Machi and McEvoy guidance – detailed notes on how to proceed with the literature review (which seem to have substituted for actually doing it).
02.10.15: Chronology – the beginning of a timeline related to the development of ‘community architecture’ as a phenomenon, based initially upon Wates and Knevitt Appendix 3. I need to add events this year (which should have been identified in Blog reflections), as the ‘movement’ now seems to be experiencing something of a resurgence.
07.10.15: Quotations – a few random quotations that might be inserted into text (mostly related to parallel instances of a Latourian approach).
07.10.15: Refs – a record of some key words used for a database literature search, and some up-to-date books published on the subject (seen on a visit to RIBA bookshop).
In an effort to impose a more coherent structure upon my assorted false starts, collections of references and quotations, and detailed analysis of selected (but perhaps unhelpful) texts, I have grouped subsequent material into five main folders, corresponding to my RefWorks headings:
b) Community (in general)
c) Community Architecture / Innovation (in particular)
d) Practice / Business (in general)
e) Particular Firms / People.
The proposed three-part structure for Document 2 remains as identified on 19.09.15 (except that I’ve dropped the silly names!):
Part 1: Aglaia - gifts of FAITH (5000 words by week 12 – early Oct)
Identity (biases & assumptions / ethics / insider or outsider) – validity: my professional context and research question (and prof’l bodies to be impacted by this)
Philosophy – Latour as the paradigm, and why I’ve joined his gang (problems with it)
Epistemology – with literature critiquing Latour
Part 2: Euphrosyne - embarking with HOPE (6500 words byweek 21 – late Dec)
Arguing for the chosen research methods from the literature: locate proposed research and possible methods within the literature, identifying how these ideas may impact on own research question.
- using Latour (ANT) as basis (what are theorists saying about possible research methods?), select literature and identify what methodologies and methods have been used to get similar research questions answered.
- using Latour as critique, review of the literature: who has tried what, why, and with what authority/outcomes – identifying the current tensions and debates within the subject.
Part 3 : Thalia – rendezvous with CHARITY outcomes (3500 words – end of Jan)
Conclusion: what/whose methods do I propose to adopt for docs 3 / 4, and why?
Using Latour, how will it be analysed (why this way)? Where is this research expected to sit in relation to all the literature out there? What good may come of this?
To date however, I’ve got no further than part-way through section 1, related entirely to Methodology. I feel confident about what has been written to date, as it has at least launched the whole exercise in accordance with my proposed structure. The plan now must be to complete at least this first section before Christmas (within the next week!), to send it off to my supervisors for review next month, and to spend the Christmas holiday on section 2. I am so desperately short of time, however, that I propose to launch sections 2 and 3 immediately, to give me somewhere to locate relevant material (if I encounter it) before editing the text more carefully. It’s not comfortable, as I prefer to write slowly and steadily from my start-point within the structure I’ve set myself. I foresee already the panic at the end of this process...