Pathways of Reflection: Creating Voice Through Life Story and Dialogical Poetry

  • Lynn Margaret Norton University of KwaZulu-Natal
Keywords: critical reflexivity, life stories, dialogical poetry, heuristic inquiry, agency, voice, lifelong learning


In this article, I explore pathways towards critical reflexivity as a way of understanding the interaction between personal and professional development. How much do we, and can we, put our personal lives into our work? Reflexivity can be developed through various methods but is explored herein through life stories and dialogical poetry as ways of deepening the connection between personal discourses and professional lives. A heuristic inquiry framework developed by Clark MOUSTAKAS is used together with poetry and dialogue to map a personal exploration of reflexivity through life story work. The journey follows six phases: initial engagement, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and culmination in a creative synthesis. Acknowledging that reflexivity is viewed as occurring in context, a narrative lens is used to integrate the importance of working with lived experience while recognizing how we are influenced by our past and present social interaction with others. In this way, as researchers and professionals, we are better able to position ourselves, to better understand the context in which we work, and to develop a more ethical lens through which we view our reality. The scope for personal agency and the creation of voice is explored through these interactions.



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Author Biography

Lynn Margaret Norton, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Lynn NORTON is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Psychology, Health Promotion, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The focus of her research is on the benefits of relational reflexivity and the use of life stories as methodology in education and community practice.

How to Cite
Norton, L. M. (2016). Pathways of Reflection: Creating Voice Through Life Story and Dialogical Poetry. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 18(1).