A means for making sense of ourselves and others in research settings

The small culture diagram from the last blog can be used again and again. 

In my small cultures paper I compare the blue bounded part to the slice of biological life, often termed ‘a culture’, one might look at down a microscope. However, in social research, the bounded part is not disconnected from the varicultural world around it. The flows continue to run back and forth and through and provide the threads that connect us all together and which, when we find them, help us to overcome prejudice. 

This helps us to understand how to escape from the positivist myth that the researcher is somehow separated, as objective, rational and individualist, from the relational, irrational, intersubjective researched. 

This observation connects with postcolonial argument that it is this positivist illusion of the Centre, Western, positivist researcher who is the only rational agent in sorting out the indolent Other.

What the diagram helps us to understand is that the blue segmented part is itself an intersubjective act of sense-making – choosing to look at a particular slice of the varicultural flow of social life. We construct and make this as a ‘setting’; but we must never forget that it’s our construction and that the other  people in the so-labelled setting each have their own realities that might not fit with it. Indeed, every person there is also imposing their own blue slicing of the reality around them for whatever reasons they might have at any particular moment in time.

It is this multiple slicing by all the people there of varicultural reality that is the basis of intersubjectivity. This makes the research event in itself a prime example of small culture formation on the go. In such as an interview, we might think we are researching what other people say and therefore think about the intercultural; but in fact we are researching our own intercultural experience of what others think, say and do about the intercultural when we are present. Whatever they choose to say, they think or do in the interview is a complex moment in their own intersubjective management and slicing of the complex varicultural world that surrounds them. All of us in this varicultural momentary meeting place is the data.

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