Psychogeography in a Time of Calamity: Dériving with Defoe

Knowles, D., Ruth, D. and Hindley, C. 2016. Psychogeography in a Time of Calamity: Dériving with Defoe. Benson, V. and Filippaios, F. (ed.) European Conference on Research Methodology in Business and Management Studies. Kingston University, Kingston-on-Thames, UK 08 - 10 Jun 2016 Academic Conferences and Publishing International.

TitlePsychogeography in a Time of Calamity: Dériving with Defoe
AuthorsKnowles, D., Ruth, D. and Hindley, C.
EditorsBenson, V. and Filippaios, F.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

This paper responds to the ECRM Call for Papers by discussing and assessing the value of a co-articulation of two research approaches, that of psychogeography and the use of fictional writing, particularly novels, as a basis for business and management research. It examines Daniel Defoe’s novel A Journal of the Plague Year as the prototypical psychogeographical text and a model of the dérive. In doing so it explores the opportunities and problems of using fiction to understand complex current phenomena. This enables us to further the case for psychogeographical exploration or the dérive as a research method which is well established as a literary genre and which contributes to new understandings of the limits of management and organization theory.

We draw parallels between the London Great Plague of 1665 which exposed the contrasting mobility of the rich and poor when calamity strikes, the problems of balancing the private and public good, the challenge of providing employment when businesses have closed and other consequences of urban disaster and how these can help us analyse the impact of such modern day disasters as 9/11, the Global Financial Crisis, climate change, and the world-wide refugee crisis. Through repeated forays (dérives) into the plague-ridden streets of London, the narrator of A Journal of the Plague Year illustrates the limits of ‘management thinking’. In the light of current claims that we have reached ecological limits in the ‘global village’ and the apparent widespread breakdown of social order in many parts of the world, the research approach adopted here has the potential to illuminate our current condition.

Given this condition, the need to transcend current frames of reference and the necessity to innovate according to the situation includes innovation in research approaches. To the best of our knowledge the co-articulation of psychogeography and fiction has not yet been tested. Treating A Journal of the Plague Year as our ‘case study’ we are able to argue for the dérive as a useful and productive research method that illuminates different aspects of organizational life, as well as the larger context of our organizations. We also contribute to the growing body of work that uses fiction to extend management theory.

Keywordsdérive, psychogeography, qualitative research methods, Defoe
Year2016
ConferenceEuropean Conference on Research Methodology in Business and Management Studies
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Accepted author manuscriptDefoe ECRM FINAL.pdf
Journal citationpp. 143-148
ISSN2049-0976
Book titleProceedings of the 15th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management, ECRM2016, 9-10 June 2016, Kingston Business School, Kingston University
ISBN9781910810941
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hzWeDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA143&dq=hindley,+ruth,+knowles&ots=7Ry-jcKB6n&sig=hw1Cm5joGUU1ofmfvAaNl8_Ugc0#v=onepage&q=hindley%2C%20ruth%2C%20knowles&f=false

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