Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Sociologists are from Venus, Designers are from Mars.

A chapter (Phase 2: Critical Review) in the text I mentioned in my last post, "Visualising Research"* has suddenly put the purpose of my literature review into sharp relief - I can see the purpose of the review with such clarity now. I think I was dithering in my writing, struggling to isolate my perspective, though all of the content is sound, and have now used the shaping criteria of quality to re-form what I have composed - the vitues being 'breadth and depth, rigour and consistency, clarity and brevity, and effective analysis and synthesis'.

What has complicated my approach so far has been the desire to locate my position, or contextual position within the disciplines external to design, but dealing with my focus area. The context is often only orthogonally related, intersecting with my claims from the perspective of feminist theory, marketing, sociology, childhood education and other disciplines where I am far from an authority, and where tinkering too fervently or intimately would be inadvisable. It's as though I'm trying to indicate my location in a land-locked jungle to sea-faring people utilising an oceanic map and a ship's navigational tools. I know where I stand, but how to articulate it usefully to people who don't spend any time on land? They may even get the leg wobbles trying to find my location. It's really the message of being a practitioner-researcher in a bottle. And a creative arts one at that.

Put simply, my position is often discussed, is topical, and is undoubtedly useful socially, but is only being debated outside design theory and practise. All this amounts to enormous progess, and despite all the designerly navel gazing, this first chapter is fast becoming a solid, concrete, first-look, draft reality.

* I cannot understate the value of this text to practise-based research PhD candidates. It's solid gold. Without wanting to get overly evangelical about it, the book provides leverage tools which would be useful to any practitioner-researcher.

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