PhD social practice theory theory writing

Research update #44: Proposal writing Day 8&9 – Why use just one theoretical framework?

Why not use three? The last two days have been spent discussing how the different facets of my research into how the roles and value of edvisors in Higher Ed (I have been vacillating between Higher Ed and Tertiary Education in case I want to include VET but I’m thinking it’s messy enough as it is now) might be informed by three different theoretical frameworks

These are:

Third Space theory
Social Practice Theory
Whatever Bourdieu’s theories/ideas are called

Fortunately they do all kind of tie together thematically and the first two certainly draw on Bourdieu’s ideas so it’s not as though I’m simultaneously heading off in three radically different directions but I am conscious that the hard part is working out how they are actually applied to the methodology and particularly the analysis of the data when it comes in. Eh, problem for another day, surely.

This section of writing has had to be a little more precise on the first pass than the discussion about the literature because it draws on far more specific sources and I needed to not get things wrong. That said, I think I’ve done a pretty sizeable amount of paraphrasing that I’m hoping doesn’t veer into the oversimplified – particularly when it comes to Bourdieu – so it will be pretty interesting to see what kind of feedback I get on that. Try this one for size:

Finally, the work of Bourdieu in relation to power and practice provides a descriptive framework to explore the ways that, put simply, a complex mixture of ‘doxa’ (established societal norms) and ‘habitus’ (a person’s defining traits) affect their position in a given societal context or ‘field’ (such as Higher Education).

Personally I feel that this gets to the core of what the theoretical framework is about but I also know that it is invariably described in far more complex language and in far far more words. On the subject of words, I’ve been meaning to copy paste in here the work that I’ve been doing as a part of documenting my process and progress but I’m also mindful of the fact that we need to run our thesis proposals through Turnitin as part of the submission process. (At least I’m pretty sure that I read that). I guess my self-quote there might be flagged now so hopefully this makes it clear why it’s appeared as a match. As a first draft, the odds that this will survive intact have to be pretty low though, so it’s probably nothing to worry about.

I have enjoyed getting into the weeds of the theory. It’s always been at the back of my mind and the times that I’ve delved, it’s been interesting but it never quite seemed as important as ploughing through the endless literature. I did one thing that may be iffy – rather than linking the theory to the actual research questions, I linked it to what I really want to know. Which is kind of the same thing but the research questions narrow the focus and make this slightly more practically achievable. The questions that I’ve tied it to are: Where do edvisors currently sit in higher educational institutions in terms of status and understanding of their roles and value? Why are they there? What can be done to improve this?

The actual, current questions relate more to the strategies used in H.E to promote understanding of the role and value of edvisors, as well as how edvisors, academics and the insitutional leaders see edvisors. This to me feels like it misses a lot of juicier stuff – I think I already mentioned that yesterday – but I need to remember to design an achievable research project first and foremost.

I’m still slightly concerned that I haven’t used enough different citations in my discussion of the theories but I’m kind of interested fairly specifically in particular people’s applications of them. I could say blah blah says this about it but I think that’s dumb because xyz I suppose – maybe I’ll keep that in mind for the next draft, based on feedback.

I’ve also noticed that I lean pretty heavily on certain words. These include focus/focussed, particularly, specifically and differentiates. I think adverbs are often regarded as crutches, so maybe they can go.

One more tangent before dinner – I lived with a PhD student for a few years and she mentioned that early on, she went through a phase of obsessively listening to one band over and over. (Throwing Muses/Kristen Hersh). I think I’ve found that space – albums by Warpaint, who were on the line up for Meredith Music Festival (I didn’t go but like to see who’s playing) have been on very high rotation for the last week. I finally succumbed to Spotify with a 3 month premium trial and found their Warpaint and related bands channel/station/thing which is broadening the range at least but currently, overall, it’s all slightly moody, sweet female vocals with cool guitar, all the time. Enjoy.