Interaction, transference, and subjectivity: A psychoanalytic approach to fieldwork

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    Abstract

    Fieldwork is one of the important methods in educational, social, and organisational research. In fieldwork, the researcher takes residence for a shorter or longer period amongst the subjects and settings to be studied. The aim of this is to study the culture of people: how people seem to make sense of their lives and which moral, professional, and ethical values seem to guide their behaviour and attitudes. In fieldwork, the researcher has to balance participation and observation in her attempts at representation. Consequently, the researcher’s academic and life-historical subjectivity are important filters for fieldwork. In general, fieldwork can be understood as processes where field reports and field analysis are determined by how the researcher interacts with and experiences the field, the events and informants in it, and how she subsequently develops an ethnography. However, fieldwork is also subjected to psychodynamic processes. In this article, I draw upon a number of research inquiries to illustrate how psychodynamic processes influence research processes: data production, research questions and methodology, relations to informants, as well as interpretation and analysis. I further investigate through a case study how the psychoanalytical concepts of “transference” and “institutional transference” can provide insight into the dynamics of efficiency and democracy at a number of Danish human service organisations.
    Translated title of the contributionInteraktion, overføring og subjektivitet: et psykoanalytisk perspektiv på feltarbejde
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Research Practice
    Volume8
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    ISSN1712-851X
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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