9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Interviews Building II, B2.01

The Potential and Challenges of Articulation as a Methodological Tool in the Case of an Interview Study of Artist's Conceptions of Being About an Artist

The topic of my research is the definitions of the (contemporary) artist in Finland. The purpose of the study is to promote the understanding of the network of definitions about artist as a process where different values confront, cross and clash. The material of the study is chosen so as to provide different viewpoints on the process. In addition to textual material I have also interviewed several artists in the North Karelian province. In my research the essential questions about the definitions of artists concern, among others, the identifications, positions, values, interconnections, distinctions and historical notions in and between (con)texts.

The basis of my research approach is that ?the artist? is a discursively produced concept under a negotiation process. Definitions matter and have an impact on a material level. The dominant discourses of the artist are just one, and often unquestioned, viewpoint which hides many other existing and often implicit assumptions and expectations, which may actually be crucial in the formation of the conceptions. Here the concept of articulation comes in to view. Articulation has been described as an interrelation of at least two originally distinct clusters or practices of unnecessary relations (Grossberg 1997). The core element is certain arbitrariness. As a made, nonessential formation, it is possible to take apart erupting natural and self-evident meanings (ibid).

In my presentation I would like to further demonstrate the possibilities and challenges of the articulative approach, especially concerning the interview analysis. As a methodological tool the concept of articulation reveals tendencies of meaning formation and also helps to consider contextual effects (see Grossberg 1997). The approach has a potential for providing useful and concrete guidelines for analysing and reading interviews. For example, its reluctant foundation urges to take any meanings of the artist as non-axiomatic formation. Its foundation also orientates itself to the surrounding world and society thus revealing the intertextuality. In addition, it helps to understand the network ?inside? and ?beyond? the discourses about the artist. However, the challenges of the articulative approach are linked to the problems of discourse in practice, the space of interpretations and the identification of articulation.