Rabbit Holes, Mole Hills and living life forward… #PhDburblings

tenniel
The White Rabbit checks his watch

The fairly horrible (emotionally) but exhilarating (intellectually) process of The Thesis is coming to an end, overdue and incomplete as they mostly are.

While yomping around the park this morning articles with title like “Institutional Logics and Institutional Work: Should they be agreed?” and “How are Management fashions institutionalized? The role of institutional work”, I got to thinking – while not petting two dogs – about what this four years has given me (or what I’ve taken from them).

One of the realisations is that I’ve been using a negative metaphor for one of my (many) Bad Habits.  When I got (over)excited about a new thing (be it empirical or conceptual) I would read around/into the topic and cram my brains.  This we labelled ‘going down a rabbit hole’.  Possibly after Alice, I don’t know.  The point being, it was a ‘distraction’, and you’d come out covered in dirt and squinting, perhaps with pink-eye, or at the very least, not such Bright Eyes.

But another way of looking at it is that you’re clambering up, slowly and inefficiently, up a mole-hill, or up the slope of a much bigger hill, if you’re trying to understand a Big Theory (organizational studies/institutional theory/critical management studies or soctech transitions or public policy blah blah blah).  And from the top of a mole hill, or a mountain, you may – unless the sweat gets in your eyes – be able to get a better view of the terrain.  Now, you may not understand what you see, you may have to climb up the same hill (quicker next time? because you know the way, have better muscles) to see the terrain.

Anyway, it’s a more optimistic way of thinking about things. God knows why I like it.

Are all the rabbit-holes recategorisable as mole-hills or mountains?  Nope, some are indeed rabbit holes, (or seem that way now).   Could I have done better?  Oh yes. But we live our lives forward, while understanding them – if at all – backwards.

And the irony/problem is this – I really think I “get’ it” now: I can see the terrain(s) fairly clearly. I know where the quicksand is, where the well-worn paths are.  I see where I might be able to make a “contribution”.

But will I be able to get a job where I can ‘get it’ productively (both for myself – food on table – and for ‘society’).  I shall try.  We shall see.

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