Archive for the ‘reflections on class discussions and readings’ Category

Tonight’s class was interesting.  I really enjoyed sharing my object with everyone and listening to what everyone else had to say about their objects.  One of my favorite of all the objects was the for sale sign.  There really is so much going on in a for sale sign, so much more than what we see, especially currently with the way our economy has been going.  This presentation caused me to reflect on the implications of a for sale sign.  When I see a for sale sign outside of a home, I typically think that people are moving, choosing to start anew.  What I do not think is that they have given up, because they can no longer afford to pay for their home.  I do not think that they abandoned their home, so now the bank is trying to sell it.  Nor do I think about the many other horrible possibilities.  It is not that I do not realize these things are happening, but rather that I do not choose, in the moment of viewing a for sale sign, to think about all of this.  Similar to how I do not view a bubble and think about how scientists once used bubbles in experiments and painters once painted bubbles for money.  Like the bubble, the for sale sign probably has such a long and interesting history that should be researched, especially a history in the case of economics.

I also loved the Pine Tree idea, but I found myself wanting to know more about how these people identify with the Pine Tree.  What does the Pine Tree say about who they are?  Also, how does the history of the Pine Tree relate to their lives in the past, present, and future?  In other words, how did its history influence who they became over time, and who they will continue to work at becoming?  I think these would be interesting questions to consider when researching this object.  

I also will be doing more research on my object, the pink triangle, both as a gay pride and rights symbol, and as a concentration camp identity badge, once called the badge of shame, signifying that a man was homosexual.  I really think this is so incredibly interesting.  Further, I think it is very important, when choosing our objects, to consider their history, a history that includes the past, present, and future.  Now for the call-outs.

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I was absent from class last time, so I am not able to type my post on class reflection.  Instead, I will reflect on the reading itself, Fleck’s Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact.  I really enjoyed reading Fleck’s work.  Dr. Wolff told me that in class everyone discussed  how we could use Fleck in our research, which is what I would like to attempt to do now.  Fleck points out that one experiment cannot explain the development of syphilis, but rather the experiences of many different experiments, observations, skills, and transformation of concepts can.  Therefore, in consideration to my own research, when researching a specific concept, I should make sure to look at the history of experiments and transformations of that concept.  As Fleck suggests, all concepts conform to a specific thought style of the past.  I am researching the GLBT community.  According to Fleck then, I am researching, not only the current GLBT community, but the  GLBT community of the past, and even the future.

Fleck suggests that throughout the history of scientific knowledge, as with other branches of knowledge, a closed system of opinions developed, which resisted, and still resists, any new ideas that contradict it.  He says there are several stages to this resistance.  First, a contradiction to the system appears unthinkable.  Second, what does not fit into the system remains unseen.  Third, new ideas are kept secret.  Fourth, experts explain an exception to the rule.  Fifth, experts continue to describe the current views only, while ignoring the contradictory views.  In consideration of these stages, I think it will be important, when researching my topic, to research contradictory views.  I should always keep in mind that just because an expert says so does not make it so, because experts frequently resist new ideas that contradict their own ideas.  Fleck says that the expert is a molded individual who cannot escape the bonds of tradition or of the collective.  In other words, when a new idea comes along that does not fit into experts’ collective boxes of traditions, they reject it, or simply overlook it, because they cannot escape the bonds of their traditions and of the collective. 

Along with these ideas, I think it will be important to consider my personal method of cognition when conducting my research.  Fleck mentions that whatever we already know influences our method of cognition, and this method then gives what we already know new meaning.  Therefore, I must consider, when doing my research, that what I already know will guide my choices in research, and how I then interpret that research.  For instance, I currently live in a social world in which the GLBT community is fighting for different rights, like the rights of marriage and adoption.  Because I live in this social world, I chose to research this community.  Further, because I live in this social  world, I have developed my own opinions and perceptions of this world, such as believing the rights of the GLBT community have been violated, which will now influence the way I interpret the readings on this topic.  As such, I must make sure to analyze my own beliefs and biases, and how they may be influencing the progression of my research, when developing my work.

Fleck also states that truth is not relative or subjective, but rather belongs to a particular thought style, namely that of a thought collective.  In conclusion, when conducting my research I will remember that what I am researching is never truth for all people, but rather truth only according to a certain group of people.  The thoughts and concepts developed from each of these groups of people is what makes up a thought collective.

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After class last week, I repeatedly reflected on the idea of researching my topic, namely the GLBT community, in a unbiased manner.  Originally, I did not like this idea for no other reason than that I am a product of my environment.  When I was working on my BA in English, all of my teachers taught persuasion as if they were drill sergeants directing me to get down and give them twenty.  Therefore, the primary environmental influence in my writing has been one of persuasion tactics.  Yet after much reflection, I am now convinced I should approach my research topic in a unbiased manner.  I think I will learn more about my topic this way, because rather than interpreting my topic through my eyes, feelings, and experiences, I will attempt to interpret it through the eyes, feelings, and experiences of others.  Further, I think learning how to persuade without using persuasion is probably a technique in itself, and one that I would like to master.

By the way, for those of you who do not check twitter frequently, I posted a link on there of the bubble show Chai mentioned in class.  The bubble guy’s name is Fan Yang.  He has all kinds of shows you can look at.  Here is my favorite.

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After reading, “Postmodern Interviewing,” and discussing it in class, I realized that an interview did not fully consist of what I normally perceived it to.  I always thought an interview was just asking a series of questions, getting the answers, and then interpreting the results.  Instead, it appears an interview is a lot more than that.  For example, I really like the idea that Dr. Wolff mentioned last night in class, which was that an interview should be more like a conversation and leave room for the interviewees to feel free to take the interview in a different direction.  In fact, this kind of interview sounds more fulfilling and worthwhile than my original perception of what an interview should be like.

I also liked the suggestion made in the book that an interview should consist of many open-ended questions, instead of cut and dry questions with specific answers like yes or no.  The yes and no questions do not reveal very much about the feelings and opinions of the interviewees, which are very important elements to consider when developing an interview.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that the interviewer does not ask the questions, but rather the interviewees do.  The interviewees illustrate through their feelings and opinions what questions should be asked.  Therefore, an interviewer is not just someone who asks questions and gets the answers, but is also someone who must know how to read people and situations well in order to understand what should be asked.  If the interviewer develops questions without also considering the people and their situations, then I feel the interviewer is more likely to express bias in the development of the questions, because he or she will only be considering his or her interests and not the interviewees’ interests.

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I noticed a common theme that seems to thread itself throughout the articles we read on qualitative research, especially the Denzin and Lincoln article.  It appears qualitative research is perceived as a form of criticism rather than a science.  In the Denzin and Lincoln article, they state, “The work of qualitative scholars is termed unscientific, or only exploratory, or subjective.”  In other words, qualitative research does not present an exact answer, number, or end like objective science.  Therefore, it must be a false science.  I think this is quite a silly speculation.  There are many things that we can only find the answer to subjectively, which objective science is incapable of answering.  For instance, we cannot objectively understand what it feels like to live in poverty or to experience grief as a result of a death in the family.  These experiences can only be understood subjectively, through the lips of those who have endured these conditions.  Objective science cannot give us an exact answer to these dilemmas, but subjective “science” can give us a multitude of answers.  In fact, subjective science can also be perceived as more helpful than objective science sometimes, because, unlike objective science, subjective science provides more than one way out.  It provides multiple ways to understanding.  Sometimes, it is more accurate to have more than one answer.

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Right now happened before and will happen again later.   History is a constant art form tumbling forward with the moment within all moments, bursting open like inflated elephant nostrils.  The falling man fell with the moving moment, tumbled like the harmonious dancer along the symmetric chaos of flaming winds.  His identity is the glowing ember of historical beauty, the beauty we shun until we can say it is history, but it is only the presence of the now that makes it history.  The moment falls.  The moment rises.  Right here in this stiffened moment of stillness.  Current history should not be shunned and then later valued.  The falling man wants to fall into someone’s smooth, caressing arms.  He wants to be held, nurtured, and remembered now.  I will catch him with my enlightened memory.   I will remember and revere his suicidal heroism.  He did not commit suicide rather he chose to do what the Beatles said to do.  He chose to “let it be.”

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