The Stranger in Contemporary Practice: A Critical Autoethnography
critical incidents in practice
Adult and Continuing Education
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AbstractThe Stranger in Contemporary Practice explores the perils (Şenocak, 2009; 2016) of negotiating differences in public sector organizations dominated by neoliberalism. This autoethnography draws on my lived experience as a critically-informed workplace consultant to explore the existential issues I have confronted in striving to align my practices with espoused values of justice in contemporary practice environments. I draw on a critical incident (Tripp, 1993) in which I reached a communicative impasse – and found myself critically challenged in communicating with professional associates whose clinical views I found irreconcilably different from mine. My research question is: how do I discern right action where I perceive an injustice occurring in practice environments which are morally complex or ambiguous and I perceive my own position in peril? My methodology draws on Ricoeur’s narrative ethics, which attunes to lived experience to discern right action in communicating with diverse others about hidden dynamics in the system (Horn & Brick, 2009). I trace my shifting identity as a change agent from a transcendental approach to critique where I “bracket” my perspective (Patton, 2002), to an existential approach based on Ricoeur’s critical wisdom (phronesis) (Ricoeur, 1992; Ricoeur in Wall, 2003), where I become more visible and transparent about my own impressions arising from direct experience of critical issues that emerge in the field. Deeply rooted in my lived experience and life history, this existential-phenomenological study informs my professional ethics, sense of justice and existential understandings of what the stranger (L'Étranger) represents in contemporary public life and professional practice.