THE CULTURE OF ALCOHOL IN RELATION TO SECONDARY AGED PUPILS: a feasibility study
Report submitted to funders in 1989, John Schostak, Richard Davies
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Analytic Profiles and typology - an overview
During the course of the research .... interviews were carried out leading to the identification of 54 developmental profiles. Clearly, not all of these can be represented in this section. Seven have been chosen. These have been chosen in order to be able to illustrate the emergence of the typology of narratives which in themselves represent the range of accounts which this group of young people made when talking about their lives during the interviews. These are not meant to be a complete representation of all possible, or actual stories representing their lives. However, they are grounded in real lives and hence can be accorded the status of generating a grounded typology. This typology is initially grounded in the accounts told during interviews specific to a local community. The typology is thus limited. Nevertheless, it is also full in terms of being redolent of the images, themes and experiences of growing up. Its power derives from this fact of being grounded. The teachers of these children can readily recognise and respond to the stories. But more than this, teachers who do not know these particular children personally can and have recognised in the accounts, children like them that they do know. By increasing the range of communities, and by extending the detail of information regarding the individuals being studied, the range of the typology itself can be extended. By taking an inter-regional approach, the emergent typology draws the variations to be found in the regions into itself and expands to encompass them. Since the typlogy is grounded, it is ever evolving and ever kept alive to the year by year changes in the youth sub-cultures and experiences of young people in a fast developing and changing world.
The typology is constructed in four stages although in practise the stages may not be so distinguishable from each other. Each stage potentially contains the others.
Stage 1 is the construction of developmental profiles from ethnographic data. The essence of this is the experience of the individual. This stage is characterised by story telling: the stories or accounts people make and give of their lives or significant moments in their lives in relation to what can be understood by outside observers.
Stage 2 is the construction of analytic profiles (see below) of each individual who has been the subject of case study (see stage 1). The essence of this is reflection upon experience in order to produce a close analysis of the life circumstances of individuals as a preparation for identifying educational strategies for those individuals. Such educational strategies cannot be imposed; are not necessarily restricted to the classroom; and should be seen as a continuous process of self development that is, as much as possible, self-developed. Such educational strategies identified through the process of stage 2 are an emergent feature of the developing critical awarenes of the individual with regard to their own life circumstance's
Stage 3. Although stages one and two are undoubtedly forms of educational strategy in their own right, it is stage 3 that enables educational responses specific to the individual, to his/her critical experiences, system of priorities, turning points, key decisions, significant others and so forth. Specifically at stage 3 a dialogue emerges between the educationist and the individuals involved. This dialogue is the basis of the educational relationship. It is at this point that educational intervention can occur. The dialogue depends upon a relationship of trust, openness, suspension of judgement, mutual respect and an assumption of the centrality and value of each child's experience.
Stage 4 emerges from all the previous stages and through comparisons and contrasts between different accounts and different understandings, a higher level of generality is achieved. This stage aims towards a typology of life stories/narratives (paradigmatic narratives) which are derived from the resources available to the young people which their specific cultures and sub-cultural experiences provide. It is essential at this stage, therefore, that the sub-cultural typologies specific to a region and across regions are analysed. The 'life stories' which emerge from the profile and sub-cultural/cultural analyses are 1] a potential fund of curriculum materials; and 2] more significantly, they are the property of the child, an example of how an individual life may be understood, unravelled, spoken about, seen, empowered. The child, so to speak inherits, his or her own paradigmatic narrative. Because it is a means of objectifying his or her life experiences, it is also a way of creating a sense of distance which enables the child to become momentarily an audience to the drama of his or her own life. This creates the conditions for emancipation from previously taken-for-granted constraints and thus enables the emergence of radically new perspectives on seemingly habitual forms of problematic behaviour. It also enables the generation of a system or way of understanding to be carried into adult life. What takes place in the classroom is the start of a process that ideally continues into adult life.
Since stage one has been developed in part ..... no further description of them here will be presented. The discussion will proceed directly to the next stages.
Stages 2 and 3 - the cycle of analytic profiles and educational interventions
Since there is considerable interaction between these two stages, there is no sense in separating them for descriptive purposes. The pilot study, of course, did not in practice enact stage 3 but it is important to discuss stage two's relations to and implications for stage three. The developmental profiles can be analysed according to: the self's 1) orientation, 2) transitional event(s), and 3) 'career objects/aims/values'. These construct or are 'constitutive of' the sense of self as it 'grows through' stages or periods of life. These three 'dimensions' have been distinguished for the purposes of providing a conscious analytical tool for the PSE teacher engaged in a form of pedagogy responsive to the child's needs. It is possible, indeed it is a presumption of the approaches proposed in this document, that not only teachers but human beings in general, in their interactive endeavours towards mutual understanding, operate these three dimensions at an 'unconscious' level.
Something will be said at this point to elaborate each of the three dimensions.
Orientations. At the most general level of analysis, the subject is always directed towards or oriented towards particular objects, or phenomena that compose his or her world. This is consonant with the general definition by phenomenologists that, consciousness is always directed towards an object for someone. In being directed towards one set of objects or individuals rather than some other set necessarily creates a boundary which distinguishes the one from the other. How this 'directedness' or 'orientation' comes about is to do with the cultural and sub-cultural experiences of the child, the way in which the child is socialised, the structure of problems that the child meets in growing up and the individual motivations and interests of the child.
In brief, orientation has much to do with the construction of boundaries, in the sense of directing interests, attention, feelings, needs, values in one direction as opposed to or in preference to, some other direction.
Transitional events. Where Orientation generates boundaries, transitional events are the experiences that arise in crossing boundaries. Other boundaries are seen to be crossed retrospectively. Some important boundaries are seen to be crossed only retrospectively. Others are crossed pleasurably, or without much discernable feeling. Other boundaries are policed, or set about with prohibitions. Such boundaries may be perceived as dangerous and therefore to be avoided at all costs, or as alluring because they represent 'forbidden fruit'. The powerful educational issues arise at this point. It is here that the moral issues, the psychological blocks and traumas, the social taboos arise. It is here that the potential for individuals to comprehend or control the quality and outcomes of their own development take place. It is in the course of transitional events that key decisions are made more or less knowingly. The purpose of the educational response or intervention is to enable these decisions to be made by the individual more knowingly.
Career objects/aims/values. A world is filled with objects and objectives that are valued. These objects are invested with meaning. Some objects are materials, substances and tools which provide the means by which to sustain life. Others may endanger life, or be used by others as weapons, or as barriers. Yet others while objectifying 'values' seem to have no obvious functional use except in a social sense. Collectively, objects arise relationally within the conscious field of the actor to produce the appearance of a seamless web of material and social reality; that is, their world. The subject locates his or her self within this field of objects to which he or she is continually oriented. This orientation generates movements towards, desires for, fears of .. and so on. There is the sense of a creation of paths, courses, directions. When these coalesce to form major life directions, they can be called 'careers'. Thus, when drug taking or alcohol becomes a major determinant of a life course, one call talk about a drinking or drug taking career. Development in itself can be seen as a form of career. The adolescent may define how she or he wishes their adolescence to look, what it should do, what goals or end-points should be striven for.