Designing Research Autopoietically

How is autopoiesis relevant to designing research? I have found that using the concept of autopoiesis enables me to describe and explain theoretically a way of designing research that I engage in with graduate students. I begin my work with students by directing their attention to already existing deep-seated interests and inviting them to reflect on those interests through writing informally. At the same time, I advise them to read widely, although I rarely advise what to read. I never prescribe how they are to respond to what they read, although their responses are inevitably incorporated into their writing. As they share their writing and receive my responses to which they respond with more writing, we set up an ongoing cycle of writing and responding. Through my prompting, students become self-consciously aware of their already-existing patterns of responding to elements in their environment. They articulate the meanings of those response patterns and come to see how their patterns and meanings construct their interests. This awareness eventually generalizes to an understanding of how response patterns and the meanings made of them construct not only individual interests but also shared social realities. Simultaneously, personal interests are re-articulated as socially relevant research topics, and insights about personal response patterns and meaning making are translated into ways of studying those topics in a larger social context. When students have articulated a topic and a way of studying it, they have in hand a research design.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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