Reflexivity :: researching :: acting

Drawing connecting Lury on second order knowledge (pp. 65-67, 2021) and
my Argument 1: Decidim forms part of a live ecosystem of interconnected collective intelligences

Lury’s writing on second-order knowledge draws together and frames some qualities which I’ve been working with for some time: reflexivity, situated knowledge, recursion. It also helped something click for me. I’ve been very aware of these qualities in two key areas: my positionality and practice; as well as the agency and practice of people in Decidim (“in the field”). However, I had not put those two dynamics in relation to eachother or underlined their common qualities.

Argument 1.1 is about the self-representation, self-knowledge and research-agency of people in Decidim (“in the field”). Really, this self-knowledge point should interconnect with the point about my (recursive) place in Decidim and second-order knowledge. For example, as per Argument 1: Decidim forms part of a live ecosystem of interconnected collective intelligences: where those interconnected collective intelligences include the self-knowing community in Decidim; I am also in one or more of those interconnected collective intelligences, albeit with a very tiny role given the scale of the overall ecosystem. So there are two-way reflexive recursive loops reflecting back into both research and action loci (assuming the premise that research and action can be given distinct loci).

Lury even refers to Augusto Boal’s spectactor which has been a figure in my research for some time (1). We can assess if/how the spectactor figure articulates a certain configuration of the relationship between “the field” and “the literature”, where the relationship is alive, moving, transformative. Noting that this relationship can also be articulated in classic Sociological terms of knowledge-power-action dynamics.


1. Spectactor:

Augusto Boal on the Spectactor in The Theatre of the Oppressed (2008):

“one must keep in mind the main objective to change people from ‘spectators’, passive beings in the theatrical tradition, into subjects, actors, transformers of the dramatic action.” (p. 97)

“The stage is a representation of the reality, a fiction. But the Spect-actor is not fictional. He exists in the scene and outside of it in a dual reality. By taking possession of the stage […] he acts: not just in the fiction, but also in his social reality.” (p. xxi)

[Noting that these quotes were mobilised in a piece of writing entitled “Reconfiguring relationships and mediating realities in grassroots political practice in Latin America” where I explored the spectactor figure as a way of understanding transformative practice and online-offline relationship (2013)]

Celia Lury on the Spectactor in Problem Spaces (2021):

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