alexandra ciocanel Annotations

Habits, Neuroses, Talents (

Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 7:35am

1. Do you have more trouble articulating your frame (social theoretical questions) or object?

I guess I have more trouble in articulation my object. I find it easier to frame social theoretical questions because they are already there in an implicit or explicit way in scholarly texts while an empirical object might have more fuzzy boundaries when looked at from a social perspective. It usually raises for me many questions related to the cuts that can be made: where it should be studied, with whom should I speak to, what levels defines it more (micro/macro/meso), what kind of artifacts should be taken into consideration, etc.? 

2. Do you tend to project-hop or to stick to a project, and what explains this?  

I stick to a project till its end (an end defined by external circumstances according to the project's timeline) but can't say that I have the interest to continue it afterwards. Till now this has happened because most of the projects that I have worked at weren't necessarily very definitory for me and I engaged with them due to various constraints (making a living, building professional experience). Hope that my current PhD project will be more fruitful for a long-term engagement with some of the themes it raises because I'm more passionate about. However, I do find it useful to engage with multiple projects, firstly because as a researcher I have a broad curiosity about social life, and secondly, I do like to learn more about different work environments and collaborations. 

3. Do you tend to be more interested in internal dynamics, or external determinations? In the terms laid out by Keller, do you tend to focus so intently on the object of your concern that context falls away (i.e. are you obsessive compulsive, rather than paranoid)? Is your desire to name, specify and control your object? Is your desire is for figure, its ground your annoyance? Or are you paranoid, context being your focus and obsession? All is signal. Only begrudgingly will you admit that something is noise, outside the scope of your project? Figure is hard to come by. Its ground has captured your attention.

I am more attuned in research to external determinations. I do have the tendency to expand my project through various bifurcations, especially in its initial phases which may add various layers that indeed make figure hard to come by.

4. What do you do with unusual or counter examples? Are you drawn to “the deviant,” or rather repulsed by it?

I enjoy when I encounter unusual or counterexamples, I rather worry when I don't. Since empirical generalisations are not equivalent to universal truths, I have no stress that counter-examples or outliers deny their validity. On the contrary, I think that they might offer a better view on the common, mundane, the usual since it is this that is harder to unpack, understand. 

5. Do you tend to over-impose logics on the world, or to resist the construction of coherent narratives?

I kind of resist the construction of coherent narratives, especially when they are very broad. I think that reality is more messy and full of contradictions and ambiguities to can be accounted through an over-imposing logic. But I also think that any account, given its nature, will bring its own sensibilities and modes of ordering and construct some form coherency so maybe the most important thing is to acknowledge that. 

6. Do you tend to over-generalize, or to hold back from overarching argument?

I hold back from overarching arguments. I make all efforts to identify which are the parameters that allow for the generalizations that I make and clearly define their scope. 

7. Do you like to read interpretations different than your own, or do you tend to feel scooped or intimidated by them?

I like to read interpretations different than my own and I have different reactions towards them, depending on the type, context. I really enjoy reading something that I did not think of previously and I like it, even if they may challenge my own, and have no problem in readjusting my own interpretations accordingly. I also like it when I encounter different interpretations with which I do not agree since they are a good opportunity to revisit my own and flesh them out even more. 

8. Do you tend to change an argument as you flesh it out, or do you tend to make the argument work, no matter what?

I change, a lot usually. I think this is the charm of research (at least qualitative, anthropological): you start with some initial thoughts, put them to work and see where they take you without transforming them into a straightjacket. 

9. Do you tend to think in terms of “this is kind of like” (metaphorically)? Do you hold to examples that “say it all,” leveraging metonymic thinking? 

I work best and identify more easily contrasts, so more inclined towards looking at relations of similarity/non-similarity. 

10. Do you like gaming understanding in this way? Does it frustrate you that your answers often don’t fit easily on either side of the binaries set up by the questions? (Jakobson suggests that over-attachment to a simple binary scheme is a “continuity disorder.”)

I am rather frustrated by the lack of parsimony when categorizing and I usually find it very hard to interpret my data through binaries. There are many shades of gray that make it hard for me to think in black and white terms. 

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