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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Drawing below the surface - Eliciting tacit knowledge in social science research

The use of drawing in research has been limited to studies of visual representations produced by the culture observed or illustrations made by the ethnographer recording objects or scenes witnessed, akin to the use of photography. The paper first considers the model provided by the discipline of Infant Observation as developed in the Tavistock tradition and applied to observations in organizational settings. It then considers the production of drawings by the observer/researcher as a mean to access tacit knowledge and unconscious perceptions of which s/he has not been aware due to the work of internal censorship. Findings concerning the approach made in different settings are examined, and the hypothesis advanced by the paper is that drawings of an observation may function as a dream 'shared' by observed and observer. The records can then be explored by the observer with a peer group of researchers producing free associations to the (verbal, written and) drawn accounts produced by the researcher of and about the culture described, thus resulting in richer data.