I’m reading Merrill and West’s book on using biographical methods and working through the first set of transcriptions. Perhaps inevitably, there is a lot of stuff going on in my head.
Perhaps one of the key learning points is seeing just how much my own perspective colours how I understand others. I was working on one of the transcriptions yesterday and can see very much the psychodynamics of the interaction and why I found it so difficult. At the same time, I can see how in other interactions, transference was working differently with me feeling far more positive about the exchange.
I am interested by the section on analysis – and the different ways in which Merrill and West approach the task. West’s use of the gestalt – a holistic approach – resonates with me, but I can also see how looking at the parts can be useful, as long as this does not become mechanistic when key ideas and insights can be lost within a category rather than the significance being recognised.
Perhaps because I am reading other people’s stories, I am also returning to my own. Although this stems as well from my attempts at diagramming the autistic spectrum domain, I found myself remembering the nightmare scenario of the only respite that could be offered to a troubled young man was a police cell – and having mental health workers in my house telling me I had no option but to ring the police as they had no appropriate provision (and they were from the tier 4 regional mental health services!). There is something totally wrong about a child acquiring a criminal record – a formal warning – for behaviour within the home stemming directly from a neurological condition.
But that points to the complexity of the domain. It may well be that it is possible to envision the people working as a community of practice, but the people come from different organisations and each organisation has its own procedures, systems and structures and each is involved in making available or rationing scare resources. A person might well see the relevance of making a particular provision, but that person also has a role within a system and…. Maybe it is easier and safer for those employed to care for and support people on the spectrum not to know too much about systems and organisations other than their own. Maybe too, this is when I have to look again at the work of Harry Daniels and Anne Edwards…
Merrill, B., & West, L. (2009). Using Biographical Methods in Social Research. London: Sage.
Edwards, A., Daniels, H., Gallagher, T., Leadbetter, J., & Warmington, P. (2009). Improving Inter-professional Collaborations: Multi-agency working for children’s wellbeing. London: Routledge.
Daniels, H., Edwards, A., Engeström, Y., Gallagher, T., & Ludvigsen, S. R. (2010). Activity Theory in Practice: Promoting learning across boundaries and agencies. London: Routledge.