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Desire and drive in researcher subjectivity: the broken mirror of Lacan

Brown, Tony (2008) Desire and drive in researcher subjectivity: the broken mirror of Lacan. Qualitative inquiry, 14 (3). pp. 402-423. ISSN 1077-8004

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Abstract

This article offers an account of how a researcher's subjectivity might be seen as being stitched into the fabric of practitioner research. It uses Lacan's notion of the mirror phase in suggesting that the subject of reflection is not quite what he or she might seem to be. The Freudian concept of desire is considered in relation to the motivations that reflective research models produce. This is contrasted with his concept of drive read against a research attitude where excessive belief in the linguistic forms of such research risks usurping the life one might seek to locate. The article draws on a contemporary reading of the terms as offered by the Lacanian social commentator Slavoj Zizek. Two examples are provided of teachers carrying out practitioner research for higher degrees. These document the awkwardness the teachers experience in building conceptions of self through reflective work as personal ideas are processed in social space.

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