Volume 20, No. 1, Art. 17 – January 2019



Professional Praxis Community in a Dialogical Perspective: Towards the Application of Bakhtinian Categories in the Documentary Method

Sławomir Krzychała

Abstract: In studies of professional praxis and learning communities, the dominant focus has been placed on the analysis of cooperative interactions and the establishment of common goals. I propose adopting the broader BAKHTINIAN perspective of dialogue as a category of analysis for sociocultural practices in professional communities, considering the multilevel (polyphonic) references of such practices to individual and collective experiences. In this methodological inquiry, I obtained examples from research conducted with teachers engaged in a school tutoring program aimed at developing new forms of individualized education (Wrocław/Poland, 2008-2016).

I discuss the applicability of BAKHTINIAN categories—such as dialogue, the polyphony of voices, and double-voiced discourse—within the documentary method and the methodological adequacy of documentary interpretation for reproducing the epistemological structure of the dialogic object of the study. As a result, I identify three levels of the reconstruction of dialogical meaning in the documentary method: 1. the direct reflection of polyphonic voices, 2. the reflection of reflections of meanings, including meanings reconstructed theoretically by the researchers, and 3. the overlapping of meanings (double voices). This interpretative structure does not reduce the dialogic meaning to situationally limited interactions and reveals the totality of polyphonic understanding within the activity (experience sense).

Key words: professional praxis community; teachers, pragmatic knowledge; experience sense; dialogic meaning; polyphony of voices; sociogenesis, documentary method

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Dialogic Perspective in Research on Praxis Communities

2.1 Qualitative research on professional praxis communities

2.2 The dialogic structure of human understanding

2.3 The dialogic perspective in the documentary method

3. The Study

4. A Reconstruction of Dialogic Experience Sense in the Praxis Community

4.1 Experience of change in the praxis community—an example

4.2 Dialogic meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation I

4.3 Dialogic meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation II

4.4 The dialogic reference of individual and collective meanings

4.5 Double voices in polyphonic meaning—the reflecting interpretation III

5. Conclusions

Acknowledgments

Notes

References

Author

Citation

 

1. Introduction

The methodological meta-analysis presented in the article results from a critical review of my research on the teachers' professional praxis community using a documentary method (KRZYCHAŁA, 2018). In this study, as well as in numerous other documentary interpretations of teachers' pedagogical practices (BOHNSACK, PFAFF & WELLER, 2010; KRZYCHAŁA & ZAMORSKA, 2014; STURM & WAGNER-WILLI, 2016; ZEITLER, HELLER & ASBRAND, 2013) and, more broadly, in professional praxis communities (AMLING & VOGD, 2017; BOHNSACK, KUBISCH & STREBLOW-POSER, 2018; JANSEN, SCHLIPPE & VOGD, 2014; MENSCHING, 2016), the interpretation of both individual and group interviews of professionals includes an analysis enabling the reconstruction of pragmatic activity patterns on two levels: patterns used to describe and contribute meaning to professional activity (orientation schemes) as well as patterns derived from practice and included in the habitual sense of the practice itself (orientation framework; BOHNSACK, 2017a, 2017b, 2017c). This level of documentary analysis aims at a theoretical reconstruction of the logic of the practice called documentary meaning by Karl MANNHEIM (1952a [1921-1922]). [1]

In the case of my research, these were habitual/documentary activity patterns of teachers, who together developed and incorporated into everyday school life a new pedagogical model of individualized counseling and cooperation with students within the tutoring program. Analysis revealed that the interactions between teachers and tutors could be understood through the BAKHTINIAN categories of polyphonic dialogue structure (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979]). [2]

The school tutoring program was implemented in junior high schools (gymnasia) in Wrocław, Poland, in 2008–2016 and was intended to become an integral part of the schools' curriculum (DROZD & ZEMBRZUSKA, 2013; KRZYCHAŁA, 2018). Tutoring involved supporting students, not only in relation to their school achievements but also in relation to independent out-of-school activities in the areas of art, sports, and volunteering. The strategic goal of the program was to provide individualized care for all school students, regardless of their abilities, needs, and interests. For the teachers, who until that point had worked exclusively in a system based on the classroom and lessons, this program represented a new challenge—to seek out and test varied forms of tutor-tutee cooperation. Because the tutors were already teachers working at a given school, the teacher-tutors' praxis communities developed naturally. Under the program, provision was made from the start for bottom-up development by a team of teacher-tutors of methods to work with students experiencing difficulties at school and with passive students, as well as with those who were talented and active. Particular attention was to be paid to average students who did not cause problems at school but who were often "transparent" and left to themselves in the mass of the school community. [3]

Each class was assigned two to three tutors who worked with students over their three years at the school through regular monthly tutorials that lasted 30–45 minutes each. Apart from the tutorials, there were occasional short discussions with the tutees and activities in small groups. [4]

During the first school year, tutors focused on the diagnosis of the student's developmental potential and on supporting students to understand their own potentials and interests. In the second year, the students defined their goals, and in the third year, the tutoring was attentive to the choices in further educational and vocational development paths by students. [5]

Within the tutoring, the tutors (teachers) undertook increasingly challenging tasks and far-reaching educational goals, combining an orientation towards following students by identifying their needs and abilities/talents and an orientation towards setting and achieving goals by the students themselves in the tutoring process. The tutors' initiative came to reflect a polyphonic perspective when their actions took into account both the retrospective and prospective perspectives of the tutee, and the tutors brought these perspectives into mediation with their own perspective of professional knowledge and experience. The dialogical structure of instruction in tutoring also enabled the learner to undertake increasingly extensive self-regulating actions in the longer term. In solving problems and achieving goals, tutees not only took into account their own experience and understanding of the problem but also successively included new perspectives suggested during the tutor's instruction. Again, in response to the tutee's moves, the teachers planned further pedagogical activity by cooperating with the child or withdrawing their instruction, observing, asking questions, and checking to reunderstand the now-expanded actions of the tutee, thereby opening up a perspective for new tasks and goals. [6]

This result in itself is not surprising. Dialogicity is regarded as an inherent and core feature of pedagogy (LAMPERT-SHEPEL, 2012; LITTLETON & HOWE, 2010; MATUSOV, 2009; WEGERIF, 2007).

"It is not that pedagogy should be dialogic—I rather argue that it is always dialogic. This is true whether the participants in it or outside observers of it, realise it or not—and even when the participants are resistant to dialogue" (MATUSOV, 2009, p.1). [7]

MATUSOV introduced a fundamental distinction to the meaning of dialogicity in educational discourse, i.e., between ontological and instrumental dialogicity (pp.5-7). Ontological dialogicity results from the sociocultural structure of human consciousness and action, which in BAKHTIN's perspective (1981 [1975], 1987 [1979]) comes into being and is expressed in reference to other consciousnesses and actions. The educational activity, being goal and curriculum oriented, can, in fact, turn out to be anti-dialogic when it attempts to enclose experience or development within predetermined forms and meanings. Hence, it has been asserted that, in scholarly inquiry, it is necessary to go beyond the analysis of the effectiveness of dialogic practices and adequate recreation of the structure of dialogic experience. [8]

Dialogic teaching and learning are defined as processes of exchange in which students ask questions, explain their points of view and comment on each other's ideas (ALEXANDER, 2008). According to this perspective, a key area of research is believed to be an analysis of classroom interactions (SCOTT, AMETLLER, MORTIMER & EMBERTON, 2010; SKIDMORE & MURAKAMI, 2016). Dialogic educational practices have been analyzed in the context of cooperative learning (GILLIES, 2015; GILLIES, ASHMAN & TERWEL, 2008; MICHAELSEN, DAVIDSON & MAJOR, 2014) and in the context of activity in learning communities (SAMARAS, FREESE, KOSNIK & BECK, 2009). Moreover, teachers development is perceived as a process integrally linked to cooperation in professional learning communities (HORD & SOMMERS, 2008; TAM, 2015; WATSON, 2014) and praxis communities (AGRIFOGLIO, 2015; BLACKMORE, 2010; MacPHAIL, PATTON, PARKER & TANNEHILL, 2014; WENGER, 2000). [9]

The number of studies, particularly qualitative ones, concerning professional development in learning and praxis communities has continuously been growing (LASSONDE & ISRAEL, 2009; STOLL, BOLAM, McMAHON, WALLACE & THOMAS, 2006; VANGRIEKEN, MEREDITH, PACKER & KYNDT, 2017). However, two methodological challenges can be identified that remain to be addressed. The first relates to the question of whether studies of dialogicity in a praxis community can exceed interactional and situational observations and the limitations of dialogue to reach cooperation defined merely by the goal of action. The second issue concerns the possibility of considering the interdependence between individual and collective action in a praxis community. While testing both individual interviews and group discussions, I also observed discrepancies in the statements made by teacher-tutors alone and in the group, which, after further inquiry, I identified as a dialogical tension in the individual history of becoming a teacher-tutor and the collective history of becoming a tutorial school. [10]

This tension led me to a methodological question of the adequacy of the documentary method in interpreting dialogical structure of professional orientation patterns as integral to such an extent that "in assessing the validity of qualitative research, the challenge can start from the ontology and epistemology of the issue being studied" (LEUNG, 2015, p.325). In discussing this question, I decided to carry out a triangulation of two theoretical perspectives: Michail BAKHTIN's theory of dialogue (1981 [1975], 1987 [1979]) and Karl MANNHEIM's praxeological sociology of knowledge (1952a [1921-1922], 1952b [1925], 1997 [1980]), which is the basis of the documentary method.1) To avoid premature equating of key categories from both theoretical perspectives, I used the categories of dialogue, polyphony, and double-voice developed by BAKHTIN in the literature analysis to critically re-analyze the analytical procedure in the documentary interpretation of a text. [11]

Thus, the article addresses meta-methodological questions by incorporating into the documentary analysis the BAKHTINIAN perspective on dialogicity (1981 [1975], 1987 [1979]). According to this perspective, dialogue is not limited merely to the conversation and exchange of interactions. Dialogism is a significant property of human action in the sociocultural environment: "A human act is a potential text and can be understood only in the dialogic context of its time" (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979], p.108). From this perspective, BAKHTIN insists on a key postulate for text research:

"Literature is an inseparable part of the totality of culture and cannot be studied outside the total cultural context. It cannot be severed from the rest of culture and related directly (bypassing culture) to socioeconomic or other factors" (p.140). [12]

The idea of dialogism is present in the polyphonic perspective, in which a subject's actions and statements simultaneously refer to the reference object, the subject's own inner perspective and other perspectives, which are present in actions and statements in the external space of the subject's experience. The reference to the space of the totality of culture is also dialogically mediated. The meaning of the speech is doubly anchored: In the authors' "conceptual system that determines this word" and also "within the alien conceptual system of the understanding receiver" (BAKHTIN, 1981 [1975], p.282). The utterance results from the dialogue relationship and reflects multidimensional cultural systems of meaning. In dialogical meaning, a multiplicity of references coexist together with their worlds, and all of them, while retaining their separate identities, come together to create the totality of understanding. "The relationship to others' utterances cannot be separated from the relationship to the object (...), nor can it be separated from the relationship to the speaker himself. This is a living tripartite unity" (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979], p.122). From this perspective of dialogic, "living tripartite unity" of understanding, I have examined the basic strategies for a documentary method: the reflecting interpretation and the generation of theory as a multidimensional typology (BOHNSACK, 2007, 2014b, 2017b; NOHL, 2013). [13]

2. The Dialogic Perspective in Research on Praxis Communities

2.1 Qualitative research on professional praxis communities

Dialogic activity in educational research practice encompasses, in the first place, the reconstruction of teacher-student and peer-peer cooperation and interaction in the classroom (HOWE & ABEDIN, 2013; JEWETT & MacPHEE, 2012; LITTLETON & MERCER, 2010; ROJAS-DRUMMOND, LITTLETON, HERNÁNDEZ & ZÚÑIGA, 2010). WEBB (2009) claimed that promoting collaborative dialogue is a fundamental task of teachers in the classroom. GILLIES (2016) considered the cooperative classroom as a space for dialogic interactions. In these studies, however, there is a dominant orientation towards the analysis of interactions evaluated in terms of their impacts on the effectiveness of teaching and achieved outcomes (FLEWITT, 2016; GILLIES & ASHMAN, 2003; GILLIES et al., 2008). This perspective is also present in studies of problem-based learning (MICHAELSEN et al., 2014) and scaffolded learning (MUHONEN, RASKU-PUTTONEN, PAKARINEN, POIKKEUS & LERKKANEN, 2016). [14]

In research into teachers' professional development, the emphasis has again been placed on the importance of learning in praxis communities through cooperation and the exchange of ideas (MacPHAIL et al., 2014). HORD and SOMMERS (2008) listed five key characteristics of professional learning in a professional praxis community: 1. supportive and shared leadership, 2. shared values, vision, and goals, 3. collective learning and application of the cognitive resources of all participants, 4. shared individual practice, and 5. supportive conditions, both physical and human. Considered to be particularly productive in a teachers' learning community is a reflection on dialogic practices in the classroom (PARKER & PUSHOR, 2014; PEHMER, GRÖSCHNER & SEIDEL, 2015) and the joint preparation of pedagogical activities (PALMGREN-NEUVONEN & KORKEAMÄKI, 2015). In a meta-analysis of studies of reflective practices, CAMBURN and HAN (2017) demonstrated that a foremost element in a learning community is simply the cooperation of teachers with each other. [15]

A readiness to go beyond the instrumental view of dialogue has been seen in studies of the construction of knowledge in cooperative practices (FELLER & YENGIN, 2014; GARCÍA-ALMEIDA & CABRERA-NUEZ, 2018; PLAKITSI, PILIOURAS & EFTHIMIOU, 2016). In these studies, an indication is given of the need to maintain vigilance in interpretation so as not to overlook the moment when cooperative practices become monological, serving the reproduction and conservation of institutionally and culturally determined knowledge (AGRIFOGLIO, 2015; SEDOVA, SALAMOUNOVA & SVARICEK, 2014). In contrast, WATSON (2014) drew attention to a trivialized understanding of cooperation, whereby it is identified with any type of interaction or free conversation. SKOTT and MØLLER (2017) proposed that analysis of a praxis community should also consider individual patterns of participation, meaning that cooperation is not a homogeneous process and does not exhaust the entire dynamic of the group construction of knowledge. ATTARD (2016) showed that teachers maintain reflective control over group participation and enter into a critical internal dialogue between the group perspective and their own personal perspective. [16]

The need to consider the dialogic interdependence between the individual and socio-institutional levels of activity in a professional praxis community, not limiting them to situational interactions only, has been addressed with the cultural-historical approach to the analysis of activity systems (ENGESTRÖM, 1999; 2013; ENGESTRÖM, KAJAMAA, LAHTINEN & SANNINO, 2015). These authors have drawn attention to 1. subjects, 2. objects, and 3. mediational means/tools employed in the activity; in the case of institutional contexts, they have also drawn attention to 4. social interactions, 5. social rules and 6. the division of labor. In the analysis of change and expansive learning in an activity system, the contradictions and dual links appearing between elements of the system the account are considered in particular. [17]

Multilevel analysis of a professional praxis community was proposed in a study of teachers peer-group mentoring as a model of cooperative human activity in practice architectures (KEMMIS & HEIKKINEN, 2012; KEMMIS, HEIKKINEN, FRANSSON, ASPFORS & EDWARDS-GROVES, 2014). A practice architecture encompasses 1. cultural-discursive arrangements in the medium of language, 2. material-economic arrangements in the medium of activity and work, and 3. social-political arrangements in the medium of power and solidarity. [18]

Based on the documentary method (BOHNSACK, 2017b, 2017c; BOHNSACK, NENTWIG-GESEMANN & NOHL, 2007), I aimed in this study to reconstruct a broader dialogic approach to the professional praxis community. With this method, particular attention is paid to processes of the construction of knowledge in activity, in which there intersect multidimensional interdependences between the experiences shared by the group and the specific experiences of individual persons resulting from their different personal, sociocultural and professional backgrounds (AMLING & VOGD, 2017; BOHNSACK, 2017b, 2017c). [19]

2.2 The dialogic structure of human understanding

BAKHTIN (1981 [1975], 1987 [1979]) regarded a literary work as a manifestation of human activity, and from this universal humanistic perspective, he argued that "A human act is a potential text and can be understood only in the dialogic context of its time" (1987 [1979], p.108). BAKHTIN emphasized this aspect of dialogicity—focused directly on the interpretation of human action—particularly in his later works (CRESSWELL & HAWN, 2011, §3). From this perspective, I see the potential for applying BAKHTINIAN proposals in social research beyond the theory of literature. [20]

BAKHTIN (1987 [1979]) distinguished the narrow meaning of dialogue, which results from a juxtaposition of clearly distinct positions in a conversation, from the true meaning of dialogue, which is contained in the internal polyphonic structure of an utterance. A text—or, in general, any sign or performance—is interindividual and—as expressed by BAKHTIN (p.121)—"is located outside the 'soul' of the speaker" and does not belong only to the author. The narrator's words contain references not only to the object of the utterance and to the narrator's own experiential perspective but also to other perspectives and points of view that belong to the sociocultural space in which the words are formulated:

"The use of words in live speech communication is always individual and contextual in nature. Therefore, one can say that any word exists for the speaker in three aspects: as a neutral word of a language, belonging to nobody; as an other's word, which belongs to another person and is filled with echoes of the other's utterance; and, finally, as my word, for, since I am dealing with it in a particular situation, with a particular speech plan, it is already imbued with my expression" (p.88). [21]

Different meanings, even if separated from each other in time and space, enter into a dialogic relationship if there is any convergence between them, even a partial commonality of theme or viewpoint (p.115). In a dialogic relationship, there co-exists a whole wealth of meanings, all of which retain their separate nature while constituting the entirety of understanding (CRESSWELL & HAWN, 2011). WEGEREF (2007, p.4) noted that, in the BAKHTINIAN perspective, the dialogic relationship holds two or more perspectives together in tension—it does not reduce them to a derivative position or a value negotiated in some simple manner. [22]

In the dialogic perspective, the meaning of action results not merely from the objectivized structure of the means of expression but also from the polyphony of references to individual perspectives (for example, those of a teacher, an adult, a person of a particular gender, a professional, a bearer of life experiences) and other perspectives (such as those of the school community, of students, of local society). In this perspective, analysis of the dialogic structure of meanings requires reconstruction of the polyphony of meanings contained in the utterance and in the actions. "What interests us is not the psychological aspect of the relationship to others' utterances (and understanding) but its reflection in the structure of the utterance itself" (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979], p.122). Reconstruction of the dialogic meaning presents the researchers with a task that goes beyond the simple observation of interactions and the linguistic analysis of dialogues in the group. "Dialogic relations presuppose a language, but they do not reside within the system of a language. They are impossible among elements of a language. The specific nature of dialogic relations requires special study" (p.117). Otherwise, the researchers only uncover fragmented dialogues (MacKENZIE, 2011, §8). [23]

BAKHTIN suggested specific paths to be followed: "Begin with the problem of speech production as the initial reality of speech life" (1987 [1979], p.118). He also introduced a distinction between the meanings contained in utterances—a key distinction for dialogic analysis. On the one hand, there are the linguistic meaning and the reference to the object of the utterance, while, on the other hand, there is the extralinguistic meaning, contained in the text but appertaining to the experiential spaces in which social voices are anchored: "Words and forms as abbreviations or representatives of the utterance, worldview, point of view, and so forth, actual or possible. The possibilities and perspectives embedded in the word; they are essentially infinite" (p.120). According to this perspective, even an individual story "unfolds through an interactive, multi-vocal and collaborative text of living inquiry, in which text is defined as that which communicates and symbolizes the deepest form of experience/interaction for the participants and writer(s)" (MacKENZIE, 2011, §4). This layer of meaning could be revealed by following the paths of the sociocultural history of the creation of understanding and by reference to the polyphony of life spaces, within the horizons of which the subjects act and express themselves (BOHNSACK, 2007; BOHNSACK, 2017b; JANSEN et al., 2014). [24]

2.3 The dialogic perspective in the documentary method

The BAKHTINIAN methodological principle appears to be realizable in the documentary method, as developed within the praxeological sociology of knowledge (BOHNSACK, 2014a, 2017b, 2017c). Its foundations are set out in the writings of Karl MANNHEIM from 1921–1929 (1952a [1921-1922], 1952b [1925], 1997 [1980]). The central distinction in the documentary method concerns the two levels of pragmatic knowledge: communicative knowledge and conjunctive knowledge (MANNHEIM, 1997 [1980]). The communicative knowledge in an utterance is expressed in the explicit meaning contained in the objectivized (linguistic, iconic and performative) means of expression. It contains the interpretations of the actors about their own praxis, but the observer does not gain insight here into the praxis itself. Communicative knowledge remains at the level of theorizing about praxis and, as common sense theoretical knowledge, as knowledge about the activity. This outcome constitutes "only 'half' of a sociology of knowledge" (BOHNSACK, 2014b). MANNHEIM extended the research perspective towards knowledge in action, described as conjunctive knowledge or a-theoretical knowledge. It comes into being and operates through praxis, and it is written directly in the very experience of praxis as the habitual and direct understanding of praxis (BOHNSACK, 2017b; MANNHEIM, 1997 [1980]), which I also call experience sense. The process of documentary interpretation of empirical material, including the texts of individual interviews and group discussions, photographs, and videos (BOHNSACK, 2008; BOHNSACK et al., 2010), has the methodological goal of reconstructing both layers of meaning—by way of formulating interpretation and reflecting interpretation. [25]

Inherent meaning is reconstructed by way of formulating interpretations, in which researchers first 1. create a thematic division of utterances and then 2. identify the types of utterances used by participants (BOHNSACK, 2014a, p.134). In the analysis of a text, attention is paid to the literal content of the identified thematic units and to the linguistic means used, such as narration, description, argument, and metaphor. From a dialogical perspective, this stage of work with the text can be treated as a preparation by separating the sequences/turns for reflecting interpretation, in which researchers will face the task of reconstructing the documentary meaning exceeding the literal expression of the individual sequences by referring them to other sequences/utterances. [26]

2.3.1 From common sense to experience sense

In the subsequent reflecting interpretation, attention turns to the documentary meaning. Mannheim suggested that researchers switch from answering the question of "what" is expressed in the text to the questions of "how" meanings arise in the utterance and how they are used (MANNHEIM, 1952a [1921-1922], pp.67-68).

"In accordance, what has been said, depicted or discussed and what has become the topic of discourse is to be separated from how—that means: in which framework—the topic is dealt with performatively. This framework of orientation, which we also call habitus, is the central subject of documentary interpretation" (BOHNSACK, 2017b, p.213). [27]

In reflecting interpretation, the researchers' task is to interpret the documentary meaning, which is available to the participants as direct understanding. To a partial extent, the participants themselves have already performed an "initial" interpretation of their understanding, translating it into the language of common sense, which is the layer uncovered by researchers in the formulating interpretations. The real task is to uncover the experience sense, which is possible if the research material enables a historic-genetic explanation of meanings through a recreation of the structure and process of the praxis in which a given habitual understanding is created and updated (MANNHEIM, 1952a [1921-1922], p.82). Reconstruction of the process of documentary meaning requires reference to the praxis, which occurs in a given experiential space (MANNHEIM, 1997 [1980]). In the documentary perspective, the study of a professional praxis community requires going beyond the common-sense interpretations imparted to the activity directly by the participants to attain the experience-sense contained in praxis itself. [28]

2.3.2 Reflecting interpretation I

In reflecting interpretation, the researchers compare the way in which utterances are linked together and refer to each other by treating statements as "prepositions" of meaning, which become the "frame" for the presentation of meaning contained in subsequent statements (BOHNSACK, 2014a). For the researchers, the whole text ceases to be just a collection of separate statements and gains new layers of meaning, the core of which is a dialogical reference to the totality of the experience that is documenting itself in the whole text. In this analytical approach, I see analogies to BAKHTIN's 1987 [1979] proposal to give the interpretation of the text the primacy of the analysis of relations between statements over decoding the meaning of separated components of the text:

"An utterance is a link in the chain of speech communication, and it cannot be broken off from the preceding links that determine it both from within and from without, giving rise within it to unmediated responsive reactions and dialogic reverberations" (p.94). [29]

According to the model of the documentary method, the first utterance is treated as a proposal and the response to it as a reaction, but subsequently—somewhat differently than in the analysis of conversation (BOHNSACK, 2017b, p.311)—a significant attention is focused on the conclusion (reaction to reaction). This creates a third element in the primary utterance chain. This element applies both to utterances of different people and to chains identified in the narrative of a single person (BOHNSACK, 2014b). Through the conclusion, it can be observed how the reaction to the proposal was received: whether mutual habitual understanding was confirmed or whether there was discerned in the reaction a particular reference to a different point of view or different experiential space from that in which the meaning contained in the proposal came to exist. [30]

The reaction is not an independent (monological) act of a discussion participant but a response to the dialogic potential of the meanings presented in the proposal. The dialogic potential of an utterance that becomes a proposal and "invites" a reaction and reaction to reaction itself enable the formation of an utterance chain. "Being heard as such is already a dialogic relation. The word wants to be heard, understood, responded to, and again to respond to the response, and so forth ad infinitum" (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979], p.127). In the analytical approach of reflecting interpretation, the adequacy of the method of analysis is mapped to the dialogic or polyphonic structure of the documentary meaning:

"The utterance is addressed not only to its own object but also to others' speech about it. But still, even the slightest allusion to another's utterance gives the speech a dialogical turn that cannot be produced by any purely referential theme with its own object. The attitude toward another's word is in principle distinct from the attitude toward a referential object, but the former always accompanies the latter. We repeat, an utterance is a link in the chain of speech communication, and it cannot be broken off from the preceding links that determine it both from within and from without, giving rise within it to unmediated responsive reactions and dialogic reverberations" (p.94). [31]

The three-turns analysis of references in utterances makes it possible to re-examine, step by step, the references not only to the theme but also to one's own point of view and other points of view, irrespective of whether these voices are those within the utterances of a single person in an individual interview or those distributed among the participants in a group discussion. [32]

2.3.3 Reflecting interpretation II

In the next stage of reflecting analysis, the researchers compare utterances both with others from the same text (within-case comparison) and with utterances from other interviews (between-case comparison). There are homologies and differences in perceptions of particular topics to be identified depending on whether the meaning on which they are based results from belonging to the same or different experiential spaces (BOHNSACK, 2014b; EVERS, 2009), being imported from other spaces related to professional and personal background, ethnic and gender socialization, and specific tasks performed at the institution (for example, the teaching of a specific classroom subject). [33]

Documentary meaning is at the same time thoroughly dialogic, provided there is accepted BAKHTIN's view that "the relation to meaning is always dialogic. Even understanding itself is dialogic" (1987 [1979], p.121). Dialogic meaning cannot be reduced or averaged to a homogeneous monological interpretation. It does not reduce voices—on the contrary, it is suspended between points of view in the relationship between social voices; indeed, "dialogic space opens up when two or more perspectives are held together in tension" (WEGERIF, 2007, p.4). In reflecting interpretation, the interpreter maintains the dialogic structure by rendering visible the entire multilevel spectrum of relational references of voices to each other, through the opening of mutual reflections of meanings, including those that come into being in successive reflections. The reconstruction of one layer of understanding opens up a space for reconstruction of the successive layers of meaning contained in successive relations and interferences:

"The text is a subjective reflection of the objective world; the text is an expression of consciousness, something that reflects. When the text becomes the object of our cognition, we can speak about the reflection of a reflection. The understanding of the text is a correct reflection of a reflection. Through another's reflection to the reflected object. No natural phenomenon has 'meaning,' only signs (including words) have meaning. Therefore, any study of signs, regardless of the direction in which it may subsequently proceed, necessarily begins with understanding" (BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979], p.113). [34]

The dialogic structure of documentary meaning is reconstructed and maintained thanks to comparative analysis, in which voices and meanings are linked to the polyphony of the experiential space. The construction of knowledge starts by opening many voices (BORG, KARLSSON, KIM & McCORMACK, 2012), which enables the researchers to move away from the literal meaning of the text and to generate a multidimensional typology of pragmatic knowledge, including that shared collectively in the praxis community, as well as that individually distinguishing participants against the backdrop of the group. [35]

3. The Study

The participants in the study were teacher-tutors from 12 junior high schools, attending the school tutoring program 2008–2016. The teacher-tutors received training about the general idea of working on the goals and principles of organization of tutorials. However, they were not provided with a ready-made model of the organization of school tutoring. This task was left to the teachers themselves, who both learned and practiced tutoring simultaneously. The school tutoring program was coordinated by the Open Education Association (Towarzystwo Edukacji Otwartej), which in 2006 established a Tutors' College (Kolegium Tutorów) to prepare concepts for individualized tutoring work in state schools and to provide training. The first three schools began the tutoring project in 2008, with 14 tutors in six classes. By 2014, there were 29 schools (including 21 junior high schools) involved in the project, with a total of 442 teacher-tutors. In several schools, a tutoring model was developed to include all students. The project was financed by the City of Wrocław. In December 2016, the Polish parliament passed an act transforming the three-stage school system (primary, junior high and high schools) into a two-stage system (an extended primary school followed by high school). During the course of this reform, the junior high schools began to be closed down, and consequently, the Wrocław tutoring program was suspended. [36]

The schools invited to research differed in size (their student numbers ranged from 97 to 791; M=313), student achievement (average results on the final external exam in 2015 ranged from 87% to 125%; M=104%2)) and degree of advancement in the introduction of tutoring (the number of years of implementation of the school tutoring program ranged from 2 to 8; M=5.4). The research on the schools consisted of three stages. First, together with the teachers, a description was created of the school with information about the organization of work, the tutoring program and other activities (competitions, projects, etc.). Next, at each school, a group recorded discussion (GRD) was conducted with the teacher-tutors, lasting for approximately 60 minutes (12 GRDs in total). Finally, at each school, individual in-depth interviews (IDIs) were recorded with at least four of the teacher-tutors who had previously participated in the group discussions (52 IDIs in total). These teachers were selected to have contrasting traits (different levels of experience and forms of tutoring work). The interviews were transcribed3) with personal information anonymized and were analyzed in accordance with the rules of the documentary method (BOHNSACK, 2014b; BOHNSACK et al., 2010). [37]

The example discussed in this article comes from a group discussion at school F, which involved two moderators (Mf1, Mm1) and six teacher-tutors (Ff1, Ff2, Ff3, Ff4, Ff5, and Fm1). The triangulation analysis of the professional community at school F considered a discussion involving the team of teacher-tutors and individual interviews with teachers Ff1, Ff2, Ff4, and Fm1. The teachers invited to participate in individual interviews were selected for variety in the length of their teaching careers, length of time spent tutoring, and tutoring methods used. [38]

4. A Reconstruction of Dialogic Experience Sense in the Praxis Community

4.1 Experience of change in the praxis community—an example

I demonstrate the application of the BAKHTINIAN dialogic approach in the documentary interpretation of experience in a professional praxis community using the example of an analysis of a selected excerpt from the group discussion among teacher-tutors at school F. In the course of the discussion, the teachers first made a free presentation of their school and students, who came from a neighborhood associated with a high risk of social exclusion and who had poor learning results. Ff2: "I'd call it a very small school since we only have a hundred pupils. Still, we have an extremely large, a large amount of behavioral and teaching problems" (GRD-F 7-8).4) At a certain point in the discussion, one of the teachers (Ff3) spontaneously began talking about the beginnings of the school tutoring program:



Transcription 1: Excerpt from the group discussion at school F (GRD-F 44-63) [39]

Attention shall be focused on a sentence that, following reflecting analysis, proves to be a key point in this excerpt: "We didn't yet know what it was all about, what it would look like" (46). This metaphorical utterance documents not only the experience characteristic of the initial stage of the introduction of the tutoring method to the school but also the conjunctive experience of difference in the now developed pedagogical activity; the analytical task can thus be defined as the determination of the documentary meaning contained in the utterance. [40]

Formulating analysis leads to the conclusion that the point here is the lack of knowledge about the method, which the teachers must still acquire. However, as will be shown, the dialogic (documentary) meaning of this utterance is significantly deeper. [41]

4.2 Dialogic meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation I

The first layer of dialogic meaning is uncovered in the first stage of reflecting analysis. I consider the utterance (46) as a proposal, the next (47-48) as a reaction, and the one after that (49) as reaction to reaction (a conclusion). This comparison reveals the specific meaning of the experienced "foreignness" of the tutoring method, which is not merely a result of being confronted with a new method. The teachers discussed in detail with representatives of the Open Education Association ideas for the organization of tutoring at the school, but it remained enigmatic since "even then we could see different views as regards tutoring" (49). This first polyphonic meaning reveals the "foreignness" of tutoring, which does not result purely from the newness of the method. [42]

I propose to pose the following question: Where are the "different views" manifested? I attempt further, in the first stage of reflecting analysis, to uncover further layers of meaning, now taking as a point of departure, not the literal utterance itself (46) but its polyphonic meaning, which we have already uncovered in the utterance chain (46-49). I take this meaning (46-49) as a proposal and the next utterance (50-51) as a reaction. Despite the perceived differences in views of tutoring, the first tutors undertook training. There was no conclusion, however, since the moderator (Mf1) interrupted with a question about the number of classes in which the first tutors, simultaneous with their training, undertook tutoring. Teacher Ff3 did not have a ready answer ("I don't remember") and transposed the moderator's question into a question to the group as a whole: "Who can remember?" (53) The teachers addressed this question together and attempted to recall the number of classes by analyzing the manner in which the tutoring was organized. As a result, Ff3 deduced a number but stipulated that it was only an assumption, stating, "but-. I don't remember" (60). This reaction indicates that it is not the organizational aspect that is involved in the expressed "foreignness" of the tutoring method presented in the program and learned in the training session. The organizational perspective, introduced by the moderator, proves to be a cul-de-sac since its conclusion is the lack of a conclusion and an interruption of the thread: "(.) If-" (61).



Figure 1: Dialogic documentary meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation I [43]

In the first reflecting analysis, I uncover the first layers of the polyphonic meaning, which becomes suspended in the reflection of voices (Fig. 1). It results from reference not only to a purely referential theme but also to other voices, those of oneself and other participants, including the moderator. In the comparison of voices, this result indicates that, in a research situation in which the researchers frequently participate, there is possible to distinguish these references that reflect a perspective of the researchers that is, as in the example, entirely foreign to the other participants. [44]

In the lively discussion of the teacher-tutors (53-61), I identify, at the first reading, an example of the engagement of the group in jointly solving a problem; however, reflecting analysis cautions me against prematurely interpreting this interaction as an expression of the experience of the praxis community. Regarding free mutual communication in the group and references to shared experiences from the initial period of tutoring work, the pattern of the group's orientation is documented in this conversation, but the perspective whereby the problem is located at a purely organizational level proves not to be typical of the group and results only from the interference of the researcher's perspective. [45]

The narrative (44-61) documents the meaning expressed through the dialogue of the discussion participants, as well as the dialogue conducted by one person. Both dialogues, in which polyphonic meaning is still only coming into existence, can be treated as an uncovering of inner speech (BAKHTIN, 1981 [1975], p.319; BAKHTIN, 1987 [1979,], p.114). "Within the Bakhtinian framework, all speech, including inner speech, is structured dialogically in that it always presupposes an addressee" (CHEYNE & TARULLI, 2005, p.130). Inner speech is not revealed as a rule but can be expressed in utterances as a dialogic monologue in which the subjects reconcile the different perspectives and positions of significant persons to find their own positions among them (EMERSON, 1983; LIDBOM, BØE, KRISTOFFERSEN, ULLAND & SEIKKULA, 2015). "Individuals construct their own sense from socially available meanings. Inner speech is the result of a constructive process whereby speech from and with others has become speech for the self" (DANIELS, 2005, p.11). In the internal dialogue, there is also a search for a means of expression and reconciliation between conjunctive and communicative knowledge, in which understanding is or will be expressed:

"In inner speech, two important processes are interwoven: the transition from external communication to inner dialogue and the translation of intimate thoughts into a linguistic and thus a communicative form. Inner speech thus becomes a psychological interface between culturally fixated symbolic systems that represent the general Tätigkeit [activity] and the individual "language' and imagery" (KOZULIN, 2005, p.109). [46]

Both in dialogic discussion and in monologue, the measure of the appropriateness of a choice of expression is not that it entirely fits the theme in terms of content but that it fits the meaning reflected off the other voices. With the progressing reconstruction of interpretation and the basing of successive analyses on it, the researchers move even further away from analyzing the text and come to address the theoretical layers of meaning (BOHNSACK, 2007; NOHL, 2013). [47]

4.3 Dialogic meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation II

In the second reflecting interpretation, I conduct a comparative analysis of the meanings read from different places in a given text (within-case comparison), as well as considering the meanings read in other texts (between-case comparison) (BOHNSACK, 2014b). In the analysis, I used fragments from the entire 45-minute discussion at school F. In effect, I reconstructed further layers of the meaning of the experienced foreignness of the tutoring method: "We didn't yet know what it was all about, what it would look like." I confirmed not only that the utterance of Ff3 expresses literally the experience of the group as a whole ("we didn't yet know") but also that this experience is present in the entire narrative of GRD-F. It resulted first from the inadequacy of tutoring methods based on working on goals in relation to the specific needs and capabilities of the school's students. The process was reconstructed of several years whereby a tutoring model was developed at the school that differed entirely from that introduced during the training and implemented during the first year. The "foreignness" of the method was not of a theoretical nature and did not disappear when the practice began. In contrast, it continued to grow, until the teacher-tutors explicitly experienced the inconsistency of their tutoring practice and undertook a "second start" in the introduction of the tutoring program, this time based on their own experience and new, original reading of the tutoring concept. From this perspective, the key sentence (46) reveals new layers of meaning. "We didn't yet know" refers to the current praxeological understanding of tutoring, not to the proposed model. I might also assume that, if moderator Mf1 had not interrupted the utterance of Ff3, she would have continued by referring to the training, with which the first teachers learned about a method that they were not able to apply in practice. This possibility is confirmed by analysis of the text since—according to the suspension of discussion (61)—other teachers themselves took up the topic of the experience of the first tutors at the school (Fm1: "Well we were pioneers, right, because it was so, so long ago"; Ff5: "We were pioneers"—GRD-F 62-63). The inconsistency experienced by them and the development of a new approach to tutoring proved to be the key, not the organization of tutorials. This experience, coded in the collective memory, is also referred to by teachers who had not participated in these events and had begun their tutoring work in the following school years within the newly developed perspective. [48]

The within-case comparative analysis documents a polyphonic meaning resulting from reference to the reflected meanings scattered throughout the text (Fig. 2). In the selected text, there are reflected different meanings, resulting from the entire seven-year history of tutoring work at school F, where eventually tutoring was provided to almost all (95%) of the students.



Figure 2: Dialogic documentary meaning uncovered in the reflecting interpretation II [49]

In text analysis, recognizing polyphonic meaning in the dialogical references of individual statements requires constant movement along sequentially spoken sentences. Almost entirely dialogical references between '"parts" are revealed at once in the documentary interpretation of the image (AMLING & GEIMER, 2016; BOHNSACK, 2008; SCHOLZ, KUSCHE, SCHERBER, SCHERBER & STILLER, 2013). From this perspective, the sequential analysis is ultimately a form of analysis of simultaneous meanings (BOHNSACK, 2008, §61). [50]

BAKHTIN's polyphony of meanings concerns not only the voices directly referring to each other in the text. Dialogic meaning also arises in reference to broader cultural meanings that go beyond the communicative intention or direct experiences of the narrator:

"Two utterances, separated from one another both in time and in space, knowing nothing of one another, when they are compared semantically, reveal dialogic relations if there is any kind of semantic convergence between them (if only a partially shared theme, point of view, and so forth)" (1987 [1979], p.125). [51]

In this perspective, the word no longer belongs either to the author or to the addressee. The word ceases to be the property only of the direct participants in the dialogue. A "third party" can encroach on the dialogic zone of meaning:

"Any utterance always has an addressee (of various sorts, with varying degrees of proximity, concreteness, awareness, and so forth), whose responsive understanding the author of the speech work seeks and surpasses. This is the second party. But in addition to this addressee, the author of the utterance, with a greater or lesser awareness, presupposes a higher superaddressee (third), whose absolutely just responsive understanding is presumed, either in some metaphysical distance or in distant historical time" (p.127). [52]

This third party can also be researchers, who introduce additional layers of interpretation. They thereby exceed the meaning reconstructed within a given case. Through a comparison between cases and through reference to theoretical voices from the relevant academic discipline, researchers uncover the meaning of utterances in a broader reference—to historical and sociocultural contexts (Fig. 2). In the research, the comparative analysis between cases has made it possible to reconstruct local tutoring experiences in relation to experiential spaces connected with the differing school and social environments. In this way, it was possible to reconstruct four basic forms of implementing tutoring as a new orientation pattern into the schools (KRZYCHAŁA, 2018). The forms differ in the scope and manner of inclusion of the new model of pedagogical orientation, both as a scheme and as a tutoring framework, in the current school activity. [53]

There are schools in which the tutoring orientation scheme has been integrated into the school program and has become an almost essential category in redefining the pedagogical style of the school (central change). In contrast, there are schools in which tutoring is perceived not as a strategic element of school organization but rather as one of many additional activities, which should enrich the school's offer (peripheral change). [54]

The differences in the tutoring orientation framework arise from diverse teachers' perceptions of the importance of tutoring experiences in specific schools. The teacher-tutors have a different sense of the nature and rank of the changes that the tutoring practice inserts into the school's everyday life. On the one hand, the tutoring experience provides a new quality and a new critical perspective in both tutors' and tutees' relationships and commitment (autonomous change). Teachers-tutors experience a change in the meaning of their activity, not only during tutorials but also in other areas of teaching and care. This change is not just a replacement of labels and organizational forms. Teachers describe concrete examples in the new reference framework, and other details draw attention. On the other hand, tutoring is perceived as a new method of organizing individual activities with the student, but it does not result in a new quality of work at school. It remains subordinate to the dominant goals and strategies of work in a given school (heteronomous change). Changes are experienced by teachers only in the scope of increasing duties and new problems, which result from the individualization of tutor-tutee relations beyond classroom teaching. [55]

In the research, particular attention was paid to the process of constructing a new orientation pattern in schools (sociogenesis) where tutoring has become a central (at the scheme level) and an autonomous perspective of pedagogical orientation (at the framework level). One of these schools is school F, which is analyzed in this article. [56]

4.4 The dialogic reference of individual and collective meanings

One more strategy was used in the research for between-case comparison when, in the analysis of the construction of meanings in the praxis community, I considered individual interviews with selected teachers who previously participated in the group discussion. Even during the reflection of the interpretation of the group discussion, I observed differences in the experiences and perspectives of the teacher-tutors. Teachers engaged in the discussion to different degrees; not all statements were taken up and developed by other participants. The leaders of change could be clearly identified. [57]

Comparison of the collective practice of the group, manifested in the shared space, with the individual perspectives, made it possible to capture the complex (dialogic) structure of the meanings produced in the praxis community. The individual perspectives, differing due to the teachers' professional and personal backgrounds, were neither reduced nor excluded from the community's dialogic understanding. The similarities, but also the differences and contradictions in the experience of change in the school activity system, render the dialogic relations even more visible. [58]

I cite as an example a text spoken by tutor Ff4, who became a leader of change at the school:



Transcription 2: Excerpt from an individual interview with teacher Ff4 (IDI-Ff4 182-195) [59]

Tutor Ff4, thanks to her many years of experience as a sociotherapist (a pedagogic counselor for 14 years and a tutor for 6 years) from the beginning "translated" the idea of tutoring into action by small steps, oriented not towards goals but towards cooperation with the tutees and their parents to solve concrete problems. In her speech, the tutor separates an identification with the group ("we got, we cut down") from her perspective ("I start"). From the beginning, she adopted a different position regarding tutoring, arranging and developing methods appropriate to work with at-risk adolescents. With time, she broadened the scope of the cooperation so that the tutees acquired new social experiences and engaged in activity that no one would previously have dared entrust to them: "And later that led to a really great project; we even got money from the city (.). (y) Action, right? And showing that it's possible. Because everyone says that, with these young people, nothing is possible; nothing will succeed" (IDI-Ff4 429-433). The tutor first worked out the new approach to tutoring herself and then successively engaged her colleagues in the new activity-based tutorial praxis ("And I got them involved in the action. In action, not in talking, but in action"; IDI-Ff4 397-398). [60]

A different experiential perspective was observed in the case of a relatively new teacher Ff1 (an English teacher for three years and a tutor for two):



Transcription 3: Excerpt from an individual interview with teacher Ff1 (IDI-Ff1 394-400) [61]

This teacher's experience again documents disappointment with the training, which corresponds to the initial feeling of the "foreignness" of the tutoring model learned by Ff3 and Ff4. However, she did not have sufficient professional experience to modify, independently and critically, the model learned during the training. She learned to tutor on an ongoing basis, through consultations with colleagues. This process opened up space for cooperation with tutor Ff4 and enabled Ff4 herself to accept the role of leader in the group. This role was possible because Ff1 joined the group of teachers who, for three years, had been trying out the new model of tutoring work. [62]

At school F, different patterns of teachers participating in the development of the tutoring method could be observed, which proved to be unsuccessful attempts to resolve perceived contradictions or to engage in superficial or marginalized actions. The overall picture of experiencing "foreignness" proved to be more complex. It was manifested in many shades and many contexts, not being limited to the initial phase of training in tutoring. With this sense of practice, there is concealed a multilevel process of creating a new pattern of tutorial orientation, composed of individual and collective histories that are intertwined, complementary and contradictory. [63]

4.5 Double voices in polyphonic meaning—the reflecting interpretation III

In the reconstruction of the dialogic structure of meanings, one more BAKHTINIAN category may be used: double voices or double-voiced discourse (1987 [1979], pp.108, 119). Double voices arise from the simultaneous overlapping of two different meanings, which only, thanks to this coexistence, display the irreducibility of the overall meaning into parts: "Double-voiced discourse is always internally dialogised" (1981 [1975], p.324). [64]

In research practice, even at the level of formulating interpretation, text may be simultaneously divided in several ways. This division often becomes clear in the work of a team of researchers who propose dividing the thematic threads in different manners and with different degrees of preciseness. In the text, moreover, diverse thematic threads overlap. In the first reflecting analysis, the researchers also uncover alternative suggestions for the interpretation of chains as proposalreactionconclusion. In research practice, the interpreter can return to a fragment of text after the second reflecting interpretation, and in light of the completed analyses, note further possibilities of dividing the text and analyzing the discourse—diverging from those drawn in the first, reflecting reinterpretation. The comparative analysis then also justifies the reading in the text of asynchronous connections, with which the reaction precedes the proposal in time. It can be asked here which of the divisions and references was most appropriate. In the double-voiced perspective, however, I propose to decline to answer this question and instead pose another: What meaning is documented in the combination of different readings and threads in the text? The overlapping of meanings opens up a space for the interpretation of double-voiced discourse (Fig. 3).



Figure 3: Dialogic documentary meaning uncovered in the reflecting re-interpretation III [65]

Elements of the analysis of double-voiced discourse have already been seen in the first reflecting interpretation of text GRD-F 44-63, in which the narrative contained overlapping chains reflecting the meaning introduced by tutor Ff3 and moderator Mf1. An example of double-voiced discourse can also be identified in narrative IDI-Ff4 182-195. The first voice refers to an experience of helplessness when introducing the new methods learned during the training, and it is shared by the whole group:

  • proposal: the teachers learned about the concept of tutoring (183-185) and specific techniques and tools of tutoring work (187);

  • reaction: these concepts were nonetheless inadequate for working with school students and their parents (188-189); and

  • reaction to reaction: the teachers were not able to resolve this contradiction (185) and limited their activity to the elements that were in any way feasible (190). [66]

At the same time, Ff4 refers to her own individualized experience, based on which she has developed a new approach to tutoring:

  • proposal: the tutor begins her work with very simple things, such as hygiene and the solution of current problems, and she accompanies the tutees and supports their development with a method of small steps (193-195);

  • reaction: this experience leads to a change in perspective whereby the tutee is seen as a developing human being and not merely as a pupil with many failures at school (190-192); and

  • reaction to reaction: this tutoring model assumes the creation of personalized relations with the tutee and cannot be implemented by the application of pre-imposed ideas and ready-made tools (183-189). [67]

In the overlapping of the two perspectives, a turnaround is documented in the pattern of tutorial orientation, made visible by the contrast between the mode of "applying" ready-made ideas and tools and the gradual "derivation" of them in the tutor-tutee praxis community. The method of "bottom-up" development of tutoring used at school F, based on the pragmatic principle of "following the student," was not presented literally during the group discussion and individual interviews. Its exact reconstruction required a thorough analysis of the whole of the empirical material, including comparative material from other schools (KRZYCHAŁA, 2018). It functions as conjunctive knowledge and as experience sense in the polyphony of individual and collective meanings. The overlapping of the perspectives marks a tension space for inner dialogue (inner speech) in which a complex understanding of the role of the teacher-tutor is formed. The imposition of seemingly differentiated perspectives and meanings—reconstructed in the course of reflecting interpretation I and II—opens up a new perspective and meaning in the polyphonic comparison on the following level of reflecting re-interpretation III. [68]

5. Conclusions

In the documentary method, the researchers can identify the structural adequacy of the analytical process in reflecting interpretation within the dialogic structure of the object of the interpretation, namely, the polyphonic structure of meanings worked out in the praxis community. Documentary interpretation does not reduce conjunctive knowledge to general (literal) principles or to situationally determined goals of action. It retains its praxeological structure, together with references to multi-dimensional spaces of individual and collective experience. [69]

The polyphony of voices of dialogic understanding can be identified through the following:

  • the direct reflection of other voices, in the first level of the reflecting interpretation;

  • the reflection of reflections of meanings, including meanings reconstructed theoretically by the researchers, in the second level of the reflecting interpretation; and

  • the overlapping of meanings (double voices), in the third level of the reflecting re-interpretation. [70]

While the analysis with the documentary method is based on observations and situational descriptions of actions, it does not reduce them to situationally limited interactions and goals of action. With dialogic meaning, they retain their concrete form, but thanks to the comparative analysis, the interpreter can see them in the totality of understanding when they reflect other experiences and are themselves reflected in many other experiences. With dialogic meaning, there is reflected the sociogenetic structure of the creation, modification, and overlapping of meanings. [71]

Analyzing the dual structure of the conjunctive space of experience, BOHNSACK (2017c, p.103) emphasizes that the analytical task of the researchers is not only the identification of orientation schemes (presenting the propositional logic of communicative knowledge) and orientation frameworks in a narrow sense (presenting the performative logic of conjunctive knowledge—namely, modus operandi of action). This reinterpretation of previous research reveals that the analytical potential of the dual structure of the experimental space is revealed only by reconstructing the relation of tension and discrepancy between the two logics of the meaning of the orientation scheme and the framework. Only the meaning, which BOHNSACK defines as the orientation framework in a broad sense (p.104), contained in this tension relationship gives the proper importance and potential of the experience-sense in the (re)structuring and (re)production of social practice. [72]

In a dialogical connection, we can reconstruct not only the meaning resulting from the tension between communicative and conjunctive knowledge contained in given statements (even already in reflecting interpretation I). The totality of experience-sense reconstructed as multidimensional, habitual knowledge is particularly pronounced in the sociogenesis of cultural practice. We can also reconstruct the relation between conjunctive meanings that reveal the dialogical relationship between the spaces of experience, which can be theoretically reconstructed as a multidimensional typology in the reflecting interpretation II (BOHNSACK, 2007; NOHL, 2013). [73]

In the article, I additionally proposed the distinction of reflective interpretation III. It points to the expanded potential of documentary reconstruction of the dialogical structure of experience-sense as double voice. It focuses attention on the immanent and structurally crucial dialogical relationship and tension within the space of experience. The researcher's attention is not primarily directed at the differences resulting from the immersion of the acting subject into different sociocultural spaces but rather is directed at the experienced tension, which itself becomes a specific space of experience directly "defined" by contradictions and ambivalence. [74]

The dialogue perspective unlocks the interpretation of the experience-sense, the meaning of which emerges in the relationship between individual and collective experience. Working with texts of individual interviews and group discussions then transcends the simple triangulation of data collection methods. The researchers can reconstruct the sociogenetic sequence of meanings as a polyphony of intertwined perspectives in the organizational system of activity. Regardless of the extent to which community members share a structurally similar frame of experience (e.g., as teacher-tutors) or differentiate between individual experiential specifics (e.g., due to gender, seniority and professional career, exceptional relationships with students), the totality of the experience praxis community is revealed by reconstructing dialogical relationships in which individual and collective experiences form a reference "framework" for each other. [75]

The research situation, including, for example, observation and interviews, provides the researchers with an opportunity to reconstruct comprehensive meanings, both in a specific context and in supra-situationally defined experiential spaces. In this context—and this could be considered particularly significant—systematic reflecting analysis enables the researchers to identify in the polyphony of meanings that reflect the researcher's own perspective and are a response to the researcher's presence. Conversely, researchers can also reconstruct their own points of view and differentiate them from the other voices collected in the empirical material (BOHNSACK, 2017b). The reflecting interpretation enables the triangulation of theoretical perspectives when researchers reconstruct and retest theories, both those that are self-generated in the data and those that are borrowed from scientific knowledge in relation to the polyphony of perspectives progressively revealed in the interpretation. Initial generalizations become the framework for gradually expanding generalizations, and new generalizations allow researchers to redefine categories and meanings that are only seemingly prespecified. Such triangulation of perspectives was also presented in the article, and I ensured it in the analogical way in which I inquired about empirical data in a reflecting interpretation. Analytically distinguishing one's own point of view is essential to moving beyond "a determination of thinking by the 'standpoint' of the thinker" (MANNHEIM, 1952b [1925], p.165) and to prevent overinterpretation through the premature imposition of one's own interpretations on the voices of participants in the praxis community and the replacement of these voices by a "monologic form of knowledge" (BAKHTIN, 1987, p.161). [76]

Acknowledgments

The research was financed under the OPUS 8 competition by the National Science Centre in Kraków as a research project "The relationality of collective and individual action patterns in the teacher-tutor role: Professional development in the binary activity system" (no. 2014/15/B/HS6/03116, performed August 2015–March 2018 at the University of Lower Silesia in Wrocław). I would like to thank Agnieszka ZEMBRZUSKA, Ph.D., for coordinating the surveys at the schools, and Ph.D. students at ULS for their assistance in moderating the 64 interviews.

Notes

1) The proposed triangulation of theoretical perspectives is not the first such methodological meta-analysis within documentary methodology. GENTILE (2010) and VOGD (2011) tested the potential of documentary interpretation by reference to Niklas LUMANNN's theory of self-referential communication structures of systems. BOHNSACK (2014a) analyzed the specificity of documentary reconstruction of conjunctive knowledge through critical reference to the concept of latent structures developed in Ulrich OEVERMANN's objective hermeneutics. Also BOHNSACK (2017b) differentially analyzed the perspectives of the ethnomethodological Harold GARFINKEL and the praxeological Karl MANNHEIM in understanding the space of experience and habitual/pragmatic knowledge. <back>

2) The results were obtained from the Educational Value-Added Database for Polish junior high schools (http://ewd.edu.pl/wskazniki/gimnazjum/witamy/ [Accessed: September 10, 2015]). Exam results were transformed so that their national distribution approximated a normal distribution with a mean of 100% and a standard deviation of 15%. <back>

3) The principal symbols used here are as follows (BOHNSACK et al., 2010, p.365):
(.) a short pause, suspension of voice;
underlined text spoken more loudly, with emphasis;
°text spoken quietly°;
@.@ laughter;
@text stated with laughter@;
└ start of an utterance overlapping with other utterances;
(assumed, approximate wording). <back>

4) Symbols of interviews: GRD-F – group discussion with teacher-tutors in school marked with code F; IDI-Ff1 – individual interview with teacher-tutor marked with code Ff1. I translated transcriptions of both group discussions and individual interviews presented in the article from Polish into English. <back>

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Author

Sławomir KRZYCHAŁA, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Lower Silesia, Wrocław, Poland. The principal research fields include educational practices, sociocultural transformations of the learning environment, professional development of educators, the methodology of documentary interpretation, and the application of qualitative methods (interviews, photographic and film reportage, observation, lesson study) in participative research.

Contact:

Sławomir Krzychała

Faculty of Education
University of Lower Silesia
ul. Wagonowa 9
53-609 Wrocław, Poland

Tel.: +48 601 960 743

E-mail: slawomir.krzychala@dsw.edu.pl
URL: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1339-4657

Citation

Krzychała, Sławomir (2019). Professional Praxis Community in a Dialogical Perspective: Towards the Application of Bakhtinian Categories in the Documentary Method [76 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(1), Art. 17, http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.1.3073.



Copyright (c) 2019 Sławomir Krzychała

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