«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
The final chapter, Chapter 6, focuses on my conclusions from the research readdressing the aims and objectives of the research. The chapter also includes a discussion on the credibility of the research and its limitations. I have discussed my contribution to knowledge and practice and potential areas for future research. These areas have been noted as I have been on the DBA journey as there are times that I could have been drawn to a tangential direction but this has given me food for thought moving forward. The chapter finishes with my personal reflections.
As stated above, this study takes on the form of the hermeneutic framework.
The first part of the spiral is to establish pre understanding as identified in Gummesson’s (2000) model in Fig 1. The model denotes a need to be aware of preunderstanding drawing on personal experience and literature. The model has been followed through the research in the exploring of my own pre understanding drawing on my personal involvement through my life history and the exploration of theory. The model and my approach to the hermeneutic spiral will be discussed further in Chapter 3. The following chapter (Chapter 2) will therefore focus on the background to the research, and rather than a traditional literature review, the focus is on gaining some pre understanding before entering into the collection of the narratives from the social actors. The chapter also includes my life history, as the researcher, to enable the reader to understand my position and also by way of declaration of self; there is some understanding in relation to my own bias and empathy for the social actors engaged in the research Figure 1: Model of Hermeneutics
Chapter 2: Preunderstanding This chapter will explore my personal position through my life history and reflections. To further develop the preunderstanding there has been some engagement with literature. This is by no means a literature review but, as discussed in Gummesson’s model (Fig 1), an exploration of my own existing knowledge on reflective practice, drawing on some theory. This pre understanding allowed me to move forward with the interviews drawing on some understanding but without clouding my judgement and interpretation. The chapter also draws on facilities management literature in order to frame the context of the social actors.
My own observations and personal knowledge
As part of my own reflective research journey I felt there was a need to enable the reader to understand the researcher through my life history and this also reinforces the hermeneutic approach of being part of the research and not sitting outside; as hermeneutics provides a blend of understanding of the researcher's own horizons or prejudices (Gadamer, 1976). As researchers, we can never remove our past experiences from the research and therefore this is inextricably linked to the interpretation of the text (Thompson, 1990).
My personal journey of truth: a reflective review
Reflecting on how I have regarded truth over the years has led me to some interesting internal discussions. As children, we are engaged in absolute positivistic epistemology and ontology as the truth given to us by parents, older siblings and teachers is considered absolute. There is no debate or questioning until we start to develop our own personalities and even venture into the "but why" stage. As most parents remember, the stage that children enter into questioning everything can be frustrating but this is all part of the ongoing psychological and physiological development. The standard line fed back after the fifth "but why" was always a classic "it just is" from my parents. This leads me on to the question of truth, as children we are expected to accept the "it just is" argument as rational, yet I know from an early age I have been unable to accept information/knowledge as this, and have constantly questioned. I feel that this is not positivistic as a true positivist would explain the facts and actively encourage the pursuit of scientific fact, but more pre enlightenment such as monarchic power where the truth was 'absolute' due to power. Is this then more about me being unable to cope with 'power' in the sense of orders and truths?
Meta-reflection: Reflecting on the last paragraph has made me consider my inability to accept hierarchical power. Ironically being brought up within a military family which is borne on the concept of hierarchical power, I have been encouraged to be independent and have my own thoughts. The independence has also been borne from the lifestyle of being away at boarding school, or even moving every three years through military life. This has definitely led me as an individual to have a level of self- confidence and perhaps also a hard shell.
As a young person, entering in to a boarding school that had a strong link with Christianity I found myself questioning the need to engage with "this God thing".
As a boarder we were expected to go to Church on a Sunday, and my strong sense of injustice found it terrible that one of my fellow boarders was expected to attend a Christian church even though she was Hindu. I do remember being almost anarchic about the situation and sitting with her refusing to take part in any of the process of kneeling and praying and being subsequently called into the Headmistress' office to discuss my behaviour. As I explained to the Headmistress in, what I perceived to be a legitimate argument, that I was still questioning where my beliefs laid, and that I felt a sense of injustice for me or anyone else to be forced to attend Church. This discussion resulted in a phone call home, and subsequent detention; which leads me to question how we teach religion to school age children. How can religion be an enforced belief, when children are at an age when they should be able to question and establish their own set of beliefs?
In relation to "what is truth", this behaviour basically states that the truth is what we are told. Religion could be considered to be another discourse to the postmodernist, in that there is no tangible evidence of existence of a God, it is taught almost as science with a positivistic statement of fact. This could be compared to the different thoughts in relation to Darwinism and Creationism;
natural origin versus 6 days of miracles (Ruse, 2004). This debate continues to be discussed across the world, however has taken a prevalent position in America with discussions on what should and should not be taught in school in relation to evolution. Didier Raoult (2008: 2095) drawing on Popper’s falsification theory argues “If we defend scientific theories with faith and Darwin as a prophet, we will rehabilitate the conflict of evolutionism versus creationism.
A scientific theory is a way to understand the world according to current knowledge. Such theory allows the creation of new data, in accordance with the theory, to evolve (i.e., to integrate unpredicted data), and that such data should be falsifiable.” Nagel (1987) and Warburton (2004) also suggest that a lot of philosophy engages with the God argument: does it/he/she exist? There are elements of consensus truth or revealed truths on either side of the ontological spectrum. Religion could possibly be considered as a consensus truth, as Johnson and Duberley (2000) discussed, in that any judgement as to the truthfulness of an account or theory is the outcome of socially established agreement or convention, between those who share a particular paradigm, making truth a set of beliefs that have prevailed in a particular social context.
Meta-reflection: My strength of feeling when writing this led me to further reflect on how this experience has impacted on me. I believe that if I was in a similar situation now I would react differently, however my strength of views is still within my core. I have questioned why I felt so passionately about the perceived injustice and I feel this relates to my temperaments (Steiner, 1944) and my sanguine and phlegmatic temperament suggests that I am drawn to the 'feeling' end of the spectrum (Jung, 1971) and therefore I am more likely to focus on people and subjectivity rather than objective and logical fact. I have revisited this reflection and realised that I had not considered the impact my behaviour may have had on my fellow boarders. This is an area that I need to be aware of moving forward in my working life, in that whilst I may have a sense of injustice for one individual, I need to consider the impact I am having on the wider team.
For me, the above text showed an air of ambition and a craving for power but without going into too much depth, the lecturer obviously had the "stock" written answer to this question, which did not allow for any debate; Macbeth was the megalomaniac and this was the answer that was required to pass the A level.
This could be considered as a further iteration of consensus truth (Johnson and Duberley, 2000). However, my own perception on this, and this relates to an illustration of the hermeneutic approach in relation to personal interpretation of text, was that we were interpreting a piece of work that had been written in the 1600s and there was no hard fact as we were unable to ask the author how he originally saw the two characters. As Gadamer (cited in Grondin, 2011:14) stated “in an exam one should give higher worth to the false answer which is defended correctly than to a right answer (which is not). Otherwise what is promoted in education is only conformity and adaptation to what already is.” In relation to truth, this evidences perhaps the dominant paradigm at that point in time in relation to Shakespeare's writing. Whilst the lecturer would have a wider knowledge of the subject matter, there was still an interpretation of the understanding of what was meant by Shakespeare, as there is with the majority of literature that does not make the concepts explicit. Is this not why we read books before seeing a film? I know that I much prefer to have read a novel before I watch someone else's interpretation of a book, in order to create my own understanding of what it meant to me.
Meta-reflection: I felt, when I read this back; this has lead me towards my own philosophical position being very subjective. This has led me to reflect on whether we develop our philosophical view through nature or nurture, although for the purpose of this thesis, this sits outside the current discussion. I feel it is through elements of both, if our temperament is innate within us as Aristotle believed then there are elements which will be very strong within an individual such as our desire for more objective or subjective decision making At 23 I lost my mother, through sudden death, and I think that also had a huge impact on the way I view the world. I believe that I am slightly idealistic in my mannerisms and, deep down; I think my truth is live for today, for tomorrow I may not be here. Whilst this has had some positives in relation to the way I am (from my own perception), there are negatives in that I find it hard to commit to anything. To reflect on whether this happens to everyone, or whether it is normal behaviour, I can only view this from my own perception and I would never claim I am completely different from every living person, and I guess that is why I am struggling with the concept of being an individual yet being aware that there are some similarities in all people, perhaps it is just how we choose to portray these to the wider world that makes us different from our fellow man.
For instance, if we draw on Jung (1971) or Steiner's (1944) concept of temperaments then we have every temperament of choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic within us and it is how we choose to flex between these and our natural predominant temperament and how all of these are shared with the external world.
My mother dying also led me again to question religion and spiritualism; and whilst I feel unable to engage with the Christian religion, there are other concepts of spiritual religious beliefs, such as Buddhism that I can relate to. My own beliefs, to divulge my inner thinking, is that our body is made up of the physiological being, but we are also an energy flow, hence why more eastern remedies focus on our energies and our chakras, and therefore when the physical body dies, what happens to the energy within? Positivists (dependent on their religious viewpoint) would be pragmatic in “death” as an "end", and then a sojourn off to heaven or hell. I am intrigued how some positivists such as Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) believed "God to be present as an immediate cause of all our experiences." I still find it hard to believe that a positivist can believe in our western faiths, when there is nothing concrete or tangible about this apart from the written word. This may be a moot point or something to do with the era that some of the great positivist philosophers came from. Again I felt this led me back to my philosophical position of is there ever a time when we can know THE truth, an absolute truth, only a truth in the here and now and one that suits me in that moment. The birth of hermeneutics was divided into three phases by Spiegelberg (1984) and the ‘preparatory’ phase was based on the work of Brentano (1838-1917) who wanted to reform philosophy to answer questions that organised religion could no longer do. Early examples of hermeneutic studies were on interpretations of scripture.
I recognise that from being quite young I have had a very strong sense of individualism and my views are that people see the world in very different ways, however how much of our views are influenced by our learning and education., our peer groups. For example, symbolism is important to my understanding and my interpretations, 'is it a desk, or a symbol of power?' but I recognise that some of this thought process in relation to symbolism may have arrived more strongly having studied a Master’s degree in Communication Studies, so has this helped to change my perspective? On reflection, I feel yes it has, although I still have a strong sense of self, and my beliefs for a very long time have been that no-one can see the world in exactly the same way relating to a subjective philosophical stance. Do our sense of values, beliefs and cultures stem from learning as we develop, and stem from our families, friends or are they potentially innate within us through our personality types and temperaments?
Again this draws on the nature vs nurture discussion.