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The Phenomenon as Muse: On Being Open to “Friendly Invasion” - By Steen Halling

According to Greek Mythology, the Muses were the nine goddesses who inspired artists and writers. As qualitative researchers we are inspired, shaken, and moved by the phenomena that we study. They are our companions on our journeys of exploration, binding us to our research participants who contribute to our understanding in sharing their stories with us and revealing something of their lives. The Greeks knew that they did not have mastery of the Muses; similarly, the phenomena we study are not in our grasp. However, as children of this age, enchanted with technology and its promise of control, we are apt to delude ourselves into thinking that with sufficient effort mastery might be within our reach. In exploring this notion of the phenomenon as Muse, I turn to the accounts of researchers, both my own and those of colleagues. I aim to give words to the evolving and often difficult dialogue with our topics, that is present in a powerful and yet typically tacit way as we undertake our task. This dialogue touches us intimately as we reflect on the dimensions of human life that capture our attention and lead us to places that we could not have imagined. As this process unfolds, questions arise and remain. For example, we wonder what openness really means and what role methods play in our work. Thus, although we may think we are done with our Muse when our project is completed, much of the time she is not done with us.


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Created 2014-05-29 23:03:39
Changed at 2014-10-22 08:09:58




The IPJP is sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) and Edith Cowan University's Faculty of Regional Professional Studies (Australia), and published in association with NISC (Pty) Ltd.