Divisions

As my blog probably over-emphasises, I struggle with making decisions in terms of what my thesis statement will be because it feels like such a decision is so arbitrary. Working with ideas I am exploring through Rancière’s work is very useful, but maybe my choice of this thinker is a bit too arbitrary. Sure, I like what the presupposition of equality offers, but is this challenging basis a reasonable commitment in my work? Why would I choose this over anything else? I was asked a while ago if I thought it would be easier if people could be divided. At the time I was not sure if the person was trying to decide if I ticked the boxes for a particular personality disorder, or if it was an attempt to push me to justify a commitment to equality in order to get over my angst by realising I had taken on that commitment. I do not think it would be easier to live in the world if people could be divided, although I do find processes of ordering fascinating.

Divisions are an attractive topic of enquiry because divisions can be a useful way of accounting for things and, following from that, they are a useful excuse for not acting. I have also become increasingly attracted to the project of exploring the work that divisions do in the contexts I undertook field work, in my analysis, and in the academic work I need to review.

In terms of divisions allowing me to justify not undertaking certain actions, it is very easy to justify being a bit eclectic in what tasks I will work on at the moment because there is nobody to point out where I am not dealing with content in a suitable manner. Time can be divided between now and some imagined future where I have a supervisor working with me who can send me back to redo what I skip over. Of course, I do know that there will never be this perfect time, and I see how my own constant doubt about the adequacies of my reading may be useful for ensuring I undertake better research. Just because somebody else thinks something is not too awful does not mean I should be content. If the quantity of work becomes overwhelming then it is up to me to prioritise.

If I pull together a bit of a review of some of the work ‘divisions’ do in urban ethnographies, maybe I would be taking time away from ‘hardcore’ thesis writing. However, there is no clear way to separate which threads are worth chasing up and so it is not really an issue of what I should or should not do.

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