What’s in a moment? using creative practices to capture emotion and experience in career turning points. an autoethnographic exploration

PhD Thesis


Simpson, L. 2018. What’s in a moment? using creative practices to capture emotion and experience in career turning points. an autoethnographic exploration. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsSimpson, L.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD
Abstract

This thesis considers career turning points in the lives of four women who work in educational guidance. I am one of these women. As a practising Career Guidance Counsellor, I have seen people struggle to make career-related decisions, yet in their pasts they seemingly made autonomous decisions with little thought other than it seemed right at the time. My own understanding of decision making, influenced by my cultural heritage, appeared to be informed by intuitive responses and chance occurrences. I wanted to explore if others had similar experiences, to satisfy a personal curiosity and a professional desire to see if creative practices could capture the emotion and experience of past career turning points. Perhaps they can draw upon the knowledge gained in times of uncertainty to aid future decision-making.

The study is also the story of my doctoral voyage and utilising an autoethnographic approach, enabled me to position myself in the work. Autoethnography, is both method and methodology, exploring the writer’s experience of life. The tensions between the distinct roles of researcher, participant and observer of both, were explored.

I wrote my story and initial, loosely-structured interviews captured the life-career stories of the other participants. Following the first interview, they were given time and space to create artefacts of their own choosing. Second interviews used questions, but allowed for the natural voicing of thoughts to maintain the informality of casual
conversation. All interviews were personally transcribed and shared with co-participants to ensure transparency and accuracy. Transcriptions were utilised to create case studies and my narrative of each interview was also recorded in a personal journal. As such, there was a layering to each experience, different ‘truths’ of the same event. Creativity flowed through this work in the form of poetic text, imaginative prose, journal excerpts and a fictionalised chapter. The aim was to provide genuineness and trustworthiness as verification.

Adopting a holistic approach to analysis enabled thoughts to emerge prior to, during and after interactions. A proforma (Merrill and West, 2009) provided the vehicle to capture the process and emerging themes. Additionally, writing on the transcripts in coloured ink, added a playful quality to investigations. Writing as inquiry (Richardson, 2000, 2008), encouraged an openness to analysis as I displayed both the writing process and product. In addition to Richardson, my theoretical framework was supported by the work of Jarvis (2006), and his notion of ‘disjuncture’, when something happens which makes us stop and reconsider our positioning in the world, was illuminating. Rogers’ (1961, 1980) inclusive consideration of the whole person, rather than a separation of the various characteristics of a life, has informed my practice to accept that occupation is but one life role. A person can have many roles which can influence a life-career. Throughout the work I have attempted to use rich textual descriptions to show rather than tell the narrative. This is pertinent to evocative autoethnography as extolled by Ellis (2004) and in doing so, I hoped to draw others into the text. Kahneman’s (2011) discussions on rational and intuitive thinking and Krumboltz and Levin’s (2004) understanding of happenstance or chance, have also been a main consideration in this work. Such experiences can be reflected on as we construct our working stories (Savickas, 2011). These theoretical ‘friends’ and others, made me review my positioning in the study and as a result, I gained new knowledge about myself and my place in the world.

I have discovered that creative practices appeared to help participants to learn something about themselves; they gained personal insight by engaging with deep reflective and reflexive processes. Knowledge which could be used to inform their future career decision-making when they are feeling uncertain. As such, creative practices could help individuals think again, with a new perspective.

Year2018
Supplemental file
File Access Level
Restricted
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Jan 2019
Accepted2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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