Note: today is 20 July 2023 and I just found this post in my ‘drafts’ folder. It was written 22 August 2014! I’ve read it through and it seems that the only thing I didn’t get round to doing was putting on a reference list and sorting out some formatting. Or, maybe I had some other points I wanted to make – perhaps more detail on policy process and/or health policy because I don’t touch on all the books who I introduce at the beginning. It’s interesting that at that time I was thinking about doing my PhD in ‘field’ of health in all policies, but now that in the past…..
A few months ago I wrote my Policy Safari post which outlined the reasons for my interest in policy. The interest has got stronger since then – the more I think about it the more I would like my PhD research to be in the ‘field’ of healthy public policy/health in all policies. I’ll write a post soon outlining the background to and use of these ‘ideas’, but in order to start to tease apart what they are and how you seek to achieve these ideals, I think you need to start with two contested concepts that underpin them – what is (public) policy? (plus what are the theories about how it is ‘done’?) and what is health? (plus what are the theories about how it is ‘made’/’damaged’?) As these two concepts are understood in such a multiplicity of ways in isolation then putting them together in phrases such as ‘healthy public policy’ and ‘health in all policies’ is kind of a recipe for complete confusion.
I feel as if I have 101 blog titles going around in my head at the moment. It’s getting hard to know which one to focus on. But I guess starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.
This blog is actually based on part of my PhD thesis (Wilding, 2021, chapter 3). The key points are the same but I focus a little more on my story of grappling with ideas that I did to reach the explanation and claims I made there. It illustrates how my traditions of systems understandings supported the development of a set of ideas about practice and its development. Hopefully, those familiar with systems thinking ideas and tools will recognise the bricolage of ideas that I draw on – I don’t want to explain or reference them all in detail as this blog would never get written. Continue reading
Recently I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between systems thinking in practice and research. This isn’t a new stream of thought, I have been mulling it over for a long time and in some ways lots of posts I have done circle around this very issue.
It’s a dilemma that started when I did my capstone module for MSc Systems Thinking in Practice because I needed to do a piece of research that was relevant to my discipline. In one way or another I have continued to grapple with this throughout my PhD – although I wasn’t doing a PhD in Systems Thinking in Practice, I did want to ensure that what I did was authentic to me as a systems thinking practitioner (a PhD with systems thining in practice). Recently though, I think that this inquiry has gained more prominence. Now that I support MSc students on their capstone modules, I need to be able to advise students whether the research they are designing is appropriate or not. Continue reading
In the last few days, I have been in an email exchange with some other PhD students about literature review. The conversation made me realise how much my understandings of what this is have changed over the course of my PhD journey as I have drawn on both my tradition of systems thinking and literature about literature review.
Recently I wrote a post on Situations which ended as follows:
But, in spite of all the commonalities, there is a distinction in the way that TU811 treats situations of interest compared to the way TU812 treats situations of concern…
In TU811, it is perfectly possible to adopt a first order stance – using systems approaches to analyse a situation of interest that you stand apart from. You can take the mindset of a consultant asked to advise or make recommendations to someone in government or in an organisation. It is possible to be objective and distant, to lack ownership of and for the situation. I say possible, you don’t have to engage with the situation that way but you can still engage pretty effectively as a systems practitioner if you do.
In comparison, when TU812 talks of situations of concern, they tend to be situations you experience directly – something you are part of. This means a first order stance is more constraining and it is more appropriate to adopt a second order stance. Here your personal engagement with the situation and the other people who are part of it matters. Your emotioning, understandings, actions and interactions can have an influence on whether the situation improves or declines. Your own action and interaction matters.
In the last few days, I have been reflecting on this in the light of closer reading of the work of Ison (2017) and various works by Checkland (e.g. 1985) which formed the basis for Ison’s conceptual model of what it is to think about practice.
The particular aspects I have been reflecting on are the way in which the practitioner and the situation can be perceived to relate to each other.
I am not inclined to do a search of the number of times I have written about the idea of the ‘design turn’. It is now over 7 years since I first encountered the term in Ray Ison’s book ‘Systems Practice’. The book is even in a second edition now and still I ‘re-learn’ about my understanding of design turn when I am prompted to reflect on it.
The latest insight has come not from considering the phrase ‘design turn’ as a whole but making a connection with another context where the word ‘turn’ is used.
I have been thinking about writing a lot recently. It’s partly because I have been reading a fab book by Rowena Murray on ‘How to write a Thesis’.
The last time I wrote about writing, was in the TU811 student forum for the recent presentation. Rather ironically it was written on 29 April 2017 – exactly 6 months ago. I have copied it below (with minor changes) Continue reading
I find it suprising that academics are really strong advocates of ‘evidence based practice’ and seek to account for and justify every methodological design decision they make, but don’t seem to apply the same standard to the ‘project methodologies’ they tell/require their PhD students to use to manage a research ‘project’. Continue reading
It’s funny how it is so easy to take a phrase – in this case ‘policy analysis’ – for granted and assume you get what it means, but then the minute you start reading about it you doubt yourself. I’m getting tied in knots about how to parse the phrase (a bit like second hand japanese car salesman. Is it about second hand japanese cars? or a japanese salesman?).
Okay so this is my meandering about policy analysis and phrases that build on it. Continue reading
I have just packaged up the third iteration of all the materials for research ethics – subject to final supervisor ‘tweaks’ they are done (hooray). This means that the research proposal I first attempted last july and amended and re-drafted ever since is now ‘done’. But I didn’t want to move on without posting some reflections on writing an action research proposal.