The first thing you need to know about my creative process is that I work outside of the academic establishment. Despite my background (two doctoral degrees), I decided to do my studies independently in order to have more freedom with the content and form of this exploration. Imagine a painter who first learns to respect and use methods of classic art, but then chooses her own unique path. Similarly, I have great respect for established scholarly methods, but I also believe that the academy is restrictive in terms of what things are supposed to be studied and how.
My approach can be classified as a form of interpretivism (1). My goal is to understand social reality by analyzing my personal everyday experiences and the wealth of information I encounter in a variety of texts (both academic and popular). I do not claim that this approach will allow me to formulate some objective truth about the world, but then again, I believe that human beings studying themselves are always bound by their own subjectivity. However, this does not mean that such subjective interpretations cannot be valuable or insightful.
As a postmodernist non-positivist scholar, I do apply one specific research method. This website is my research tool inspired by the rhizomatic approach introduced by philosophers Deleuze and Guattari (see 2, 3, and an explanation from my first hypertext project). This approach allows me to look for some logic in the chaos of the social universe without pretending that this chaos can be neatly packaged and comfortably understood. Although I can explain and justify my research methods, I feel obliged to disclose to my reader that my marginal status sometimes makes me doubt the validity of my scholarly pursuits.
The second thing you need to know is that I love puzzles. Even if all I have is thirty minutes every day, over time I can spend hours looking at tiny pieces again and again, turning them around, trying to find logic and connections. The social universe is like a puzzle to me, although making sense of it is not the same as putting together a prepackaged neat picture (as an interpretive scholar, I do not believe in objective truth). Even though I do not always have much time to work on my research projects, I view my life experiences through the the two key topics: meanings and power.
Treating my exploration as a puzzle-building project means looking for pieces everywhere. Each day I come across new ideas and examples that can be incorporated in the picture that I am trying to put together. Related to this, the third thing for you to know is that my scholarship and my life are intertwined. I treat every situation as a potential source of knowledge and inspiration. After all, I believe that power is an essential aspect of the human condition. Every interaction involving human beings can be analyzed to further our understanding of how social power works.
This perspective has become my own source of power. Instead of feeling defeated by challenges that life brings, I see them as an opportunity to continue my investigation. Dealing with bureaucracy or parenting, navigating my own emotional states (e.g., anxiety), processing tragic events or conflicts in society around me, have all been fruitful sources of inspiration. Most importantly, I connect the investigation of power to my overarching goal to help people combine awareness about social problems with collaboration across divides through empathy. On a daily basis, considering the intricacies of power helps me to better manage relationships with friends, family, and colleagues - in fact, anybody who crosses my path.
The fourth thing you need to know is that I have a detail-oriented analytical mind. I believe that power is an incredibly complex phenomenon, and the only way to grasp it is by taking a close look at its various aspects separately. This is why on this website you will find entries about a variety of aspects of power and related concepts. Links between the pages are meant to show the connections between them.
I believe that such detailed analysis gives us a shot at understanding power. However, analysis is only possible by creating artificial divisions. For example, I describe social power as divided into micropower (individual power) and macropower (collective power). It is easier to look at each one of these aspects separately, but it is important to remember that in the actual social reality they exist in and through each other. By the same token, I divide micropower into influence, ability, and "may" power - but I also remind my readers that these elements of individual power cannot be found separately from each other in real life.
It is important to note that my research is not just about picking power apart. I am systematically checking that the way I am describing various aspects of power still makes sense when I put these aspects back together. Therefore, synthesis is an inseparable part of my analysis. At the same time, I acknowledge that grasping everything that I am trying to understand about power simultaneously might be impossible for an individual human's brain (for my brain, at least).
Last but not least, the fifth thing to know about my creative process is that writing is an indispensable element of my interpretive approach. I am often able to formulate new ideas as I work on articulating them. I do not have a clear plan for everything that I am going to say before starting a new page. New directions of thought are born out of realizations that I have in the process of putting together strings of sentences, and then changing and rearranging them multiple times.
Writing is a solitary process, for which I am grateful. I am an introverted conflict-averse person, and I often feel concerned imagining how other people might interpret my meandering explorations. Writing is my safe space; it allows me to keep dancing across the minefield that an investigation of power seems to be in the current day and age. This process is sometimes scary, but I am focusing on the dancing part - beautiful, playful, and creative.
SOURCES: 1. Macionis, John J.; Gerber, Linda M. (2011). Sociology (7th Canadian ed.). Toronto: Pearson Canada. 2. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987) A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. (B. Massumi, Trans.). University of Minneapolis. (Original work published 1980)
3. Dronsfield, J. (2012). Deleuze and the image of thought. Philosophy Today, 56(4), 404-414.