Metaphors that inspire 'researching with people': UK farming, countrysides and diverse stakeholder contexts

McClintock, David (1996). Metaphors that inspire 'researching with people': UK farming, countrysides and diverse stakeholder contexts. PhD thesis The Open University.



An awareness of metaphors offers exciting possibilities for research. Metaphors can be seen as central to our understandings and as a way to be able to appreciate different understandings. In contexts characterised by many actors and different activities, such as in agriculture, metaphors provide a way of dealing with this diversity. Metaphors also enhance attempts to be self-reflective and responsible in research. Researching with people explicitly recognises the roles assumed by the researcher as well as co-researchers. Researching with people removes a divide between doing and using research, and focuses on how to create a space where different understandings can emerge. The context for this research is how future counrrysides in the UK can come about. Farming, environmental and social issues are all included in this context, although farming is taken as a base. The main 'co-researchers' were several farming families and members of The Farming and Wildlife Advisoy Group (WAG). In the thesis, a framework is developed for recognising, bringing forth and exploring metaphors. Ways of using metaphors explicitly in research are developed by considering how metaphors provide: a way to understand our understandings, as well as the way language is used; a way to reflect on, and structure research; a way to understand the research context and to appreciate a diversity of understandings; and a way to create space for understandings to emerge. An approach is proposed that can inform research in diverse stakeholder contexts, in a wide range of fields, based on an awareness of metaphors

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