Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2016 Archive

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Working with theory in social research


5 April 2016

This workshop will explore the implications of recent “turns” to emotion and affect in the social sciences (Ahmed, 2004; Boler, 1999; Clough & Halley, 2010; Gregg & Seigworth, 2010; Terada, 2001). In particular, the potential of Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptions of affect and desire for analysing voice in research will be considered. These turns to emotion and affect are indebted to, and extend, a legacy of feminist research that challenges gendered norms surrounding emotion and rationality that construct women as a threat to social order, dialogue and rationality, and marginalise the political question of who decides what emotions are acceptable and unacceptable (for example, Bordo, 1987; Campbell, 1994; Jaggar, 1989; Lloyd, 1984; Spelman, 1989).

Affects, after Deleuze and Guattari, are intensities before and beyond human perception, distinguished from emotions which are the labeling of these sensations in language (1988; 1980/ 1987; Massumi, 2002). Desire, for Deleuze and Guattari (1983), is affirmative and productive, seeking connections and relations – even as it becomes codified, regulated, blocked, and understood in deficit terms. A voice does not speak and ‘express’ emotion from the “inside-out” (Ahmed, 2004, pp. 8–9) to satisfy desire, but rather speaks from – and is entangled with – affects, words, histories, things, and the world, and reaches forth to connect and generate new relations.

This workshop will explore the potential of affect and desire for rethinking (and, perhaps, feeling differently about) voice in qualitative research. The presenter will discuss what these concepts enabled in a participatory ethnography of student voice at a public high school. She will also talk about some of the attendant risks of an obsession with affect – new theoretical “fascisms” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1983) that risk throwing out the ‘baby’ of voice with the ‘bathwater’ of the phenomenological subject.

Workshop participants are invited to bring for discussion an aspect of their own research that perplexes or stimulates them, for example:

  • an infuriating text from the research literature
  • a troubling policy document
  • a confusing methodological text book
  • an exciting extract from an interview transcript
  • a haunting photograph from a research site
  • a motivating coffee cup
  • a distracting object
  • a depressing chapter draft.

These things of “wonder” (MacLure, 2013) will become part of the workshop.

Recommended reading
  • Jackson, A. Y. (2003). "Rhizovocality", Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(5), 693–710. doi:10.1080/0951839032000142968
  • Thrift, N. (2004). "Intensities of feeling: towards a spatial politics of affect", Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, 86(1), 57-78. doi:10.2307/3554460

Event details

Working with theory in social research: appropriating Deleuze and Guattari to think and feel differently

Where Room 612, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
Education Building A35
Click image for interactive map.


5 April 2016

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