When I was twenty I was a social psychology graduate student, and I was pregnant and alone in a strange city and foreign country. One day Professor Mary Gallant, whose brown hair was beginning to gray, came into class looking more than usually disheveled. Being sweet of disposition, she laughed at the misfortune she had just experienced. She was conducting a survey of the needs of pregnant unmarried teenagers in metropolitan areas. For the past two years as her questionnaires arrived in the mail, she and her assistant, in these pre-personal computer days, were keeping track of the data by placing ball bearings in indentations in a large wooden board. That morning, she had accidentally knocked the board over onto the floor, dislodging all of the ball bearings. She said she saw two years of work rolling all over the floor in her study as she laughed. As she was tenured, she was not concerned with completing the research in a timely way. I did not find the situation funny. I viewed social scientists as those who were looked upon for knowledge and counsel to help ameliorate the pain and stress experienced by members of society, or at the very least, to increase understanding of the issues and problems. After completing this semester and having my baby, I decided to get a master’s degree in social work instead of social psychology.
When I read Helen Barnes’ book I felt confused and sad. Helen is a white haired, petite and slender woman of seventy-five. She is married to a retired academic scientist and spent most of her married life following him. Helen did fieldwork more than thirty years ago with a remote tribal culture (here called the Zs) in South America. She went back a couple of more times. Helen’s initial purpose was to understand why this country was experiencing such rapid population growth. Because of this she felt she had to study their sexual practices. However, the Zs did not like to talk about them. Helen never thought she could write a book, but finally did so thirty some years later and published it via a vanity press.
The story she tells in her book is about adultery in the community which she feels leads to violence and murder. It is also about men dressing as women at pageants and festivals, indicating, she feels, acceptance of homosexual practices. She uses anthropological theory to find bridges between these practices, which are “deviant” in the culture, at least according to the Catholic religion. The linkages come from the Z’s animistic native religion where the concept of fate is important. The villagers gave her a totem animal, “the maggot”. One village woman described the village to Helen as “behind God’s back” saying that God must have forgotten about them.
What is confusing and sad to me about this book is that I don’t get any appreciation of the actual life struggles of the Zs. Since she was not a scholar-practitioner, Helen did not concern herself with helping them bring about desired change. She was only there as a “social scientist” to produce new knowledge, which hopefully someday would help with the problem of overpopulation.
Perhaps the villagers felt that Helen was like a maggot, living off of them while they were rotting away. She had power and resources way beyond their imagination, but did nothing to help them. So they were “forgotten by God.” Because she was not a mindful inquirer, the book reveals little about Helen, and what she actually thought and felt about the Zs, and how this all impacted her life.
When I was a graduate student in social work, faculty had pet theories, which they expected their students to put into practice. In order to succeed with your practicum, you had to apply the theories. Sometimes the clients benefited, and sometimes they did not. Janice Jenkins was a teen-aged client of mine in a graduate practicum at a sheltered workshop for the developmentally disabled. Her presenting problem was pain in her mouth because she was afraid to go to the dentist. I found the psychodynamic approach, which my supervisor favored, caused anxiety to Janice. In following my supervisor’s model, I was to sit on the opposite side of my desk, in professional manner, and interview Janice about her feelings about her mother and sister, especially when they were small children. Janice blushed and squirmed around in her chair at these sessions. She repeatedly requested permission to leave to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. I began to relate to Janice in a more comfortable, supportive way, by going for a soda in the cafeteria, or going for a walk around the block. Within a few weeks, I accompanied Janice first to the dentist’s office to observe and get acquainted, then for her two treatments getting large cavities filled. For using an alternative practice theory, my supervisor declined to work with me the following semester.
From Practitioners and Scholars to “Scholar-Practitioners”
Social research and practice cannot be separated (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998), because social research has an impact on the lifeworlds of those involved. Practice is always affected by the practitioner’s knowledge base, the scholar-practitioner cultivating and articulating this relationship.
The contemporary human community is faced with unique questions imbedded in far-reaching issues unique to our time which require a researcher who is also a skilled practitioner. Among these issues are the widespread incidence of cancer and AIDS, global warming, genetic engineering, violence in many manifestations, and environmental degradation. Such presumed progress as the proliferation in electronic communication which brings the world into people’s homes while simultaneously isolating them and leashing them to keyboards and computer screens needs to be assessed in human terms. How does this supposed progress play out in practice? What are the human and social consequences of change? Conventional research begins and ends with the relationship between X and Y under controlled conditions. Yet this tells only a fragment of the lifeworld effects.
The rapid flux of the current world does not allow practitioners to rely on pre-existing frameworks. The pace of scientific discoveries and technological change is so rapid that assumed realities about the world require constant revision. A practitioner must know how to find the most current information and link that information to several relevant theoretical frameworks. The practitioner must know when a problem has moved outside the scope of existing theories, frameworks or paradigms, requiring creation of new theory. A practitioner must also be a scholar in the fullest sense, a discoverer, a creator of new knowledge.
The hard lessons of too narrow focus in the supposed service of scientific truth by twentieth century scholars, are inescapable. The way knowledge is produced and the kind of knowledge produced is a moral question. The scope of modern science has made moral questions and judgements monumental rather than inconsequential, as has been the standard of the past. Scientific discovery and artistic creation do not occur in moral vacuums; they affect communities in which livelihoods, ways of being, styles of life, and even life itself depend. The scholar or researcher is also a practitioner, whether she recognizes and accepts it or not.
How knowledge is produced is also a question of moral concern because it affects the lives of those who cooperate in the production of the knowledge, those who bear its costs and benefits. This means that the scholar-practitioner must also be a conscious epistemologist mindful of consequences, that is, a philosopher of knowledge. A Mindful Scholar-Practitioner (MS-P) is interested in the effects of new knowledge. He will carefully tend new knowledge as it is put into practice, in the manner of the inquirer or researcher and watch and listen carefully to the outcomes. An MS-P will be aware that to the extent to which others involved in the process are co-researchers, the knowledge gained will have greater validity and relevance. Irrevocably attached to those who are affected by the newly gained knowledge, the MS-P is a member of a dialogical community which works to improve itself and other co-communities.
New Forms of Understanding for the Twenty-first Century
The social sciences developed on the coattails of the physical sciences which blossomed in the Enlightenment. Starting with the newly emerging field of evolutionary biology, August Comte in France and Herbert Spencer in England wrote social evolutionary theories heralding sociology as the queen of the sciences. Politically they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Spencer developed a theory of biological evolution predating Darwin’s, originating the concept of survival of the fittest (manifested under President Nixon as benign neglect). In contrast, Comte advocated sociologists as high priests guiding social evolution. Yet, both espoused the ideal of the perfectibility of society. Spencer and Comte led the way to structural functional theories of society, with the guiding metaphor changing over time from organism to machine to computer (Parsons, 1951). Max Weber emphasized that sociology must remain value neutral if it is accurately to describe, explain, and provide understanding of human social action. Social scientists attempted to shed light on the social and psychological upheavals and distresses which they variously described as alienation and false consciousness (Marx, 1969), anomie (Durkheim, 1951), social dysfunction (Merton, 1968), one-dimensionality (Marcuse, 1966), and power-distorted communication (Habermas, 1970).
Two scholar-practitioners of the 19th-20th centuries, Marx and Freud, redirected social thought in ways which necessitated moral discourse. Marx demystified the Geist (the spirit of culture or worldview, which Hegel said ruled supreme over historical change) by defining it as the relationship of a social class to the means of production. Freud demystified psychic suffering by relating it to cultural repression of biology. Yet both, following the lead of the physical sciences, contended that religion inhibited humans from seeing truths which scientific methods discovered.
Building upon and combining the insights of Marx and Freud, critical theorists such as Habermas (1971), make explicit demands on researchers to examine power relationships as well as to plumb their own psyches which distort communication.
Prior to World War One, Edmund Husserl, philosophical leader of the phenomenological movement in Western thought, announced a Crisis in the European Sciences (1970). The split between academic researchers and their objects of study, along with the rabbit-like breeding of disciplines meant that intellectual work was continuing outside of responsible community dialogue about the value and benefit of this work to society.
Research and practice in the twenty-first century must find new forms of understanding and being to address current challenges. For example, NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is sponsoring research which brings together cybernetics, the human genome project, and nanotechnology. Specifically, the scientists there are decoding human genes and transporting them into other organisms. With nanotechnology they create microscopic ecosystems and universes not visible but transportable electronically via computer guidance. The rationale for scientific inquiry in these domains is that if they do not do it, “someone else will.” So said the originators of the atomic bomb, some of whom later opened their minds to the questions demanded of the mindful inquirer. (Palevsky, 2000).
Globalization presents both challenges and opportunities for practitioners, requiring new skills and sensibilities. Karen Bump (2000) has developed an Internet connection for shut-in elderly in rural Arizona. She reports these home-bound elderly appreciate being able to access information and communicate with others in various parts of the world. At the same time, the question of whether the lives of persons are actually improved by techno-development is in the forefront of social concerns today in nations from Mali, (See: email@example.com) to Prague, (Klein, 2000)to Aizawl, Mizoram, (Bentz, 2000)
The Evolution of the Scholar-Practitioner
Over the last century, the world has become tenuous, less predictable, more virtual. In the shift from working the land, to working at machines, to working in front of computers, “work” life has become more word centered and less “thing” centered. “Knowledge workers” have replaced mechanics and technicians. Mindful scholar-practitioners must inquire or “research” into what is occurring in the practice situation. One can no longer simply conduct research with “tried and true” methods but must reinvestigate what the truth is and evaluate alternative courses of action. One must become a scholar-practitioner
Our era has been characterized as “the information revolution.” During the last quarter of the twentieth century postmodernist approaches to knowledge became prolific (Seligman, 1991). The modernist perspective saw the state as real, the individual human being as real, nature as real. The postmodern perspective considers all of these realities as images or representations. Postmodern chimera are not the shadows in Plato’s cave, or the being that is in hiding in Heidegger’s ontology.
Plato’s story of the cave tells us that the world we have come to know is but a reflection in the dark shadows of the real world upon the walls of the cave. Humans in the cave shun looking towards the sunshine. At first it blinds them and they see nothing. It is the philosopher’s job to explore, live, be, in the realm of the sunshine of truth and knowledge in order to let others see it without fear. The philosopher as scholar-practitioner does not stop there, but helps those in the cave get up and walk out into the sunshine.
Western philosophy and science since Plato have been based mostly on the assumption that only truths knowable through their accepted forms of logic and epistemology are valid and worthy. The view of the world outside Plato’s cave has been one of a limited spectrum. Overzealous use of Occam’s razor has narrowed the research vision to operationalized variables. Values, intuitive knowing, the sort of knowledge discovered by the artist, the dancer or musician, the wisdom of native weavers and drummers, and the whole structure of life and being upon which they rest, have been eliminated from accepted epistemology. Hypothesis testing triumphed as the singular procedural path to scientific knowledge limiting what could be held up as true, and therefore real, to only those few narrow propositions about a small piece of the world abstracted and isolated from the too messy real world. Such findings were often of ephemeral value to practitioners who must make decisions affecting real persons lives in richly textured lifeworlds.
Heidegger (1993) urged Western philosophy to regard the ground beneath the cave and the atmosphere above it. He said any thing to be known must be known in relation to the fourfold: earth, sky, mortals and immortals. Looking historically beneath Plato to the pre-Socratic Western philosophers, and East to Zen Buddhist masters, Heidegger decentered the human subject. Dasein, Heidegger’s word for the human being, is one who is by, for, at, with other beings thrown into a particular historical place and time. Dasein is the creature formed by and with language, who by nature inquires into the nature of Being:
Heidegger’s “Being” is that which exists beyond any noun or adjective, in and under all things and qualities, all entities, but from which all entities, existences may occur. Heidegger did not use the word God for Being because he thought that even theology had covered over Being with concepts and dogmas. Dasein de-centers man. Man is no longer the subject of knowing but a vehicle through which other beings and even Being may be known. The epistemological work of Dasein is to “unconceal ” Being. (Bentz, 1987).
The MS-P works in an environment of endangered meaning. In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan (1965) roused awareness of new forms of communication and their increasing centrality by asserting that the media is the message. The means had become an end. Postmodernism leaves both means and ends floating. Finding themselves in a situation with breakdowns in meaning, postmodernists revel in multiple and shifting meanings. This tenuousness of meaning is endemic to Internet communications. Internet connections are unreliable. Sometimes messages are sent, but never received, having taken a wrong turn on the information highway, or perhaps pushed off the side of the road or perhaps simply run out of gas. Ask techno-technicians what happened to your e-mail message (or messages), they can’t give you a clear and certain answer, other than something along the lines of, It’s all so new, the bugs, you know.
Shifting metaphors, Internet messages one does receive are not washed away like writing in the sand on the shore. (Although, at random, unless you have a good back-up system, your messages may be wiped out by a system crash. Or, with the inadvertent tap of a key, your love note may be copied to a thousand member list-serve.) Messages get buried by more communicative sand, pushed out of consciousness by incoming waves of messages and by high tech graphics which out-shout your sister’s small note: “Dear Sis, I went to the Dr. yesterday for a physical. Today I found out I have breast cancer.”
Getting fifty or more email messages a day is a common experience. Imagine fifty letters a day in your post office box. (Roughly 15,000 a year, not counting Sundays and holidays). Unless your life is devoted to keeping track of the flood of e-mail messages (much less absorbing and responding to them), most will be lost in the flow of time as each hour’s e-mail is replaced by the next. The clack of the keyboard has replaced the voice. Carpal tunnel syndrome has replaced laryngitis as the affliction that makes you shut up. Gerade (idle chatter in Heidegger’s concept of inauthentic modes of being) rules the day.
Derrida’s assertion that there is nothing beyond the text dissolves ontology into words about words about words (1982). He and other virulent postmodernists decry the notion of any reality underlying the text. They are ready to forego man, individual, and the subject (Foucault, 1994). These, accordingly, were seen as projections, chimera, created by texts. Yet, the authors of texts, including the postmodernists themselves, still have names, identities, bodies, salaries, pension plans, and state supported medical insurance. Disingenuously, even hypocritically, they pursue careers, fame, as postmodernists while decrying the identities and identifications of others. (Bentz & Kenny, 1997) As Kenneth Burke reminds us, (1968) as language driven as we are the word “death” is not an adequate stand in for actual dying.
It is not coincidental that mindful inquiry puts the inquirer or practitioner at the center at a time when the human being’s sense of self is under attack. Postmodern thinking deconstructs human identity as it deconstructs reality.(Deleuze & Guattari, 1983) celebrated the schizophrenic breakthrough. They advocated multiple personality disorder and even schizophrenia as a cure for oppressive social control. Glass (1993) argued that those actually suffering from mental conditions such as multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia are in anguish as they strive to overcome the devastating effects of sexual and physical abuse as children.
The mindful scholar-practitioner must be aware of counter or alternative epistemologies current in the political lifeworld in which he practices. Feminist philosophers, such as Nancy Fraser (1989), have argued that postmodernists drown out women’s voices just at a time when women are beginning to be heard. At the same time, feminists acknowledge the wedge into discourse which postmodernist thinking makes for women because of its emphasis on difference. (Tijssen, 1991). Postmodernism encourages a multiplicity of ways of being, knowing and expressing (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986). Ironically, the emphasis on “difference” means that in a blasé manner, every eccentric move may be seen as “just another bizarre freak thing. Ho Hum. What next?”
Phenomenologists, such as Edmund Husserl, emphasize the importance of respect for the integrity of our lifeworlds. (Murphy, 1988). Lifeworlds are the wellspring, the foundation, for all that happens. Husserl urged scientists and philosophers to return to the things themselves, namely our direct experiences. The practicing phenomenologist finds her way around in a world cluttered with the junk of centuries of distortion. She uses bracketing to set aside the representations which come from modern science as well as from layers of political and cultural structures. She keeps in mind that any representation is also a misrepresentation in so far as it directs our attention towards particular aspects of a situation and away from others.
Mindful Inquiry and Its Four Cornerstones
The Four Cornerstones of Mindful Inquiry are hermeneutics, phenomenology, critical theory, and Buddhism. Mindful inquiry is a process of reflection used by the MS-P, which may be seen as a metahermeneutic process. Each of the cornerstones of Mindful Inquiry focuses initially on a different aspect of the overall situation: hermeneutics on the interpretation and explication of meaning, phenomenology on the actual experience of the person in the lifeworld, critical theory on the historical and social situation as it impacts action, Buddhism on thoughtful practice. Each, as it is put into practice brings the MS-P to greater depth and insight into practice.
Critical theory, phenomenology, and hermeneutics offer deep challenges to the prevailing trends in the social and human sciences. Each is rooted in continental thought which took seed in North America after World War II. The immigration of European Jewish intellectuals brought translations and teachings of these thinkers into the United States, the entire Frankfurt School of critical theory moving to Columbia University. The New School for Social Research in New York also allowed many of these scholars to teach, including Alfred Schutz, Herbert Marcuse, Theodore Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Leo Lowenthal, Han Gerth, and others.
A question about the relevance of Buddhism among the other cornerstones may have arisen in the reader’s mind. Buddhism is a cornerstone of Mindful Inquiry, not as a social science, which it is not, but as a value perspective, a way of being and knowing which establishes the practitioner as the focal point for understanding. Buddhist practices and principals move the practitioner in ways which allow for coherent and powerful application of the three other cornerstones of Mindful Inquiry.
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Hermeneutics means the interpretation of texts. It began with the tradition of Biblical scholarship (Palmer, 1969). In the twentieth century, scholars such as Ricoeur, Heidegger, and Gadamer (1975), carried hermeneutics out into the broader realm of the interpretation of human interaction and society. As Heidegger (1982) said, the human being is a being who seeks to understand. Ricoeur (1977) expanded the definition of texts to include dialogues, discourses, actions, artifacts, conversations. One of the philosophical hallmarks of the twentieth century is the hermeneutic turn (Bauman, 1978), the movement towards the realization that all of human experience is language infused, influenced, marked, constituted, if not determined (Langer, 1972), (Duncan, 1964), (Lacan, 1982).
Hermeneutics involves a give and take, between the interpreter and the text. With each movement of the spiral, the interpreter, in this case the mindful inquirer, moves outward to the world, to observe, obtain data, communicate, analyze, comprehend, intervene, act. The interpreter takes these back into herself, and is changed, grows through and by the understanding of them. The German word, Bildung, expresses the change which occurs in the interpreter through engagement with meaningful texts. In this way the person is changed, becomes cultured.
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Each of the four specific modes of mindful inquiry contains special turns. Each turn requires the SP to analyze the situation of practice in a unique way. This contributes to his skill in moving forward with the community of others in which he works. I will describe these turns briefly here and then go on to give examples of applications of MI by some outstanding S-Ps.
The Hermeneutic Turns of Mindful Inquiry
It is important that Mindful Scholar-Practitioners (MS-P’s) study various hermeneutic theories because each gives different ways of opening up texts to understanding. Hermeneutic strategies have elective affinities for particular texts or events, so that some events remain opaque when interpreted via various hermeneutic strategies, but open to new levels of meaning given the correct strategy [Bentz, 1993).
One of the specific hermeneutic turns asked of the MS-P is to examine the structural and strategic aspects of the text. In a written text, look at the way paragraphs are organized, the kinds of words used, the sequencing of words, the length and rhythm of sentences. For example, is the text written in the first person? How might that present different interpretations than the third person? If the text is not written but spoken, or is a visual presentation, the MS-P would look to unpack the grammar of that text.
Hermeneutic theorist Paul Ricoeur (1981) asks that the interpreter continue to examine the motives of the creators of the text and the actors within the text. The text can also be viewed and understood in relation to its context. Certain texts only make sense when delivered in particular contexts. A yellow road sign on the steep downward slope of Highway 50 between Lake Tahoe and Placerville, California, says “Truckers, Easy On The Jake Brake.” This sign would make no sense if it were placed on a flat highway or a rising hill (as it makes little sense to most motorists who do not know what a Jake Brake is).
Linda Wing, in her work on the transformative aspects of the relationship between the dissertation chair and the student, used Gadamer’s three levels of interpretation (Gadamer, 1975, p.187), to work with her detailed transcriptions of interviews of dissertation dyads: the chair and the student. On the first level she described the nature of the overall cultural meanings described in the texts. On the second level she sought to explain the particular motivations and meanings for these pairs using relevant developmental, psychological, and philosophical theories. Finally, she employed Gadamer’s I-Thou level in which she articulated how she was changed through her interaction with these texts.
Phenomenology in Mindful Inquiry
Phenomenology is the philosophy which rose in the twentieth century to address the gap between the sciences and the direct experiences of conscious beings. Phenomenology, like hermeneutics, is more than just a research method; it is a way of living and being which rests in an awareness of how one’s consciousness constructs objects and how different framings of experience clarify what is essential. Phenomenological work is both descriptive and analytical. Phenomenologists seek to describe direct experience as opposed to assessing “experience” in a scientifically controlled and thus necessarily “unnatural” setting. In this sense, phenomenological descriptions have elements in common with literature.
Phenomenologists use various techniques of analysis to clarify what appears as reality. In her work on mystical experience, MaryBeth Haines (1999) used her own journals of her mystical experiences, along with the writings of mystics and focus group interviews with others who lived the mystical path. By working with the various descriptions of the phenomenon, Haines found that all such events contained interior spaciousness, a necessary component of the mystical experience.
Dudley Tower (2000) wrote a deep phenomenological description of his experience as a survivor of cancer. He conducted in-depth interviews with other men who had been diagnosed at least five years prior and who had not experienced a reoccurrence of cancer. Tower found that these survivors reached new levels of emotional and spiritual development as a result of having had cancer.
Mindful Inquiry asks the MS-P to make several phenomenological turns in engaging in research or practice. One of them is to write a detailed description of the phenomenon in question as an object of conscious experience. Using bracketing and imaginative variations, the phenomenologist then attempts to discover what is most central to the experience. The phenomenologist may bracket one sense memory at a time, or may bracket out assumptions about the object from the research, social sciences, and everyday life. Bernie Novokowsky, (1998) in his dissertation on the experience of being empowered as a consultant to corporations, found that exerting power in a group situation did not necessarily mean that he felt powerful. To the contrary, as he wrote his phenomenological protocols, he found that there were times when his assertion of power signaled a lack of such feeling. It was compensatory to feeling inadequate.
Another side of phenomenological work, and one which takes the MS-P through a different turn in the process is found in the social phenomenology of Alfred Schutz. This turn involves describing the lifeworld in which the phenomenon is embedded. Too much of social scientific work ignores the lifeworld in which experiences happen and which create the possibility for experience to occur. The Structures of the Lifeworld, [Schutz and Luckmann, 1983 ) provides a framework for that which exists in all lifeworlds. The MS-P can learn much about a situation through describing it as it exists in a lifeworld. Burrus (1997) wrote a lifeworld description of the woman as Swiss banker, a work phenomenon which increased awareness of male domination in the banking business.
The turns in mindful inquiry coming from critical theory ask the MS-P to reflect on the actual historical circumstances in which the research is occurring. The MS-P should ask who is being served by this process of inquiry, who would gain by it? The critical turn requires that one look at the structures of domination embedded in the situation and in the research design and relationships. All steps possible to alleviate injustices should be taken. The researcher should seek to establish communication processes which are not distorted by power. It is incumbent upon each researcher to develop his own powers of self-analysis to free himself from unconsciously extending power dynamics internalized through one’s socialization or past experiences of repression (Habermas, 1971).
An example is De Guerre’s (1999) action research project which used Habermas’ critical theory to design a democratization process at a major Canadian oil company. His work includes description of the challenge of such large scale change.
The Buddhist Turn
The principle of Buddhism which applies to mindful inquiry is found in thoughtfulness in what one does, even in mundane activities. Mindful practice fully engages such thoughtfulness. The MS-P also, through Buddhism, brings a concern for one’s addictive behavior. Buddhism asks practitioners to let go of attachments to outcomes perceived as necessary. Rather, one would act with hopefulness but without expectation. The MS-P would resist ego involvement in his work. At the same time the MS-P seeks the alleviation of suffering and an increase in gentle bliss in the world.
The reader may be wondering if it is necessary to be Buddhist or at least to have studied Buddhism to be an effective MS-P. The answer is no more than you need to be an automotive engineer or mechanic or Formula One racer to drive your car from here to there. Buddhist thinking, only to the extent described above, is the key to this powerful and necessary awareness of and concern for the consequences of research. Buddhism provides the mind-set for mindfulness.
Lucille Dinwiddie (2000)used the entire process of Mindful Inquiry as a framework for her research on high performance teams from a variety of settings. Her main starting point was the Buddhist turn seeking to alleviate suffering. Most prior studies of high performance teams have articulated their achievements and even their glories, to the neglect of the costs and benefits of these glories for those persons on the teams. Her phenomenological descriptions of the experiences of such teams revealed their dark side even when the teams were outwardly successful.
Through knowledge gained from conducting in-depth interviews with twenty-two high performance team members, she was able to articulate the experience of being such a team member. She analyzed her results using Alfred Schutz (1983) concept of creating “puppets”. She found that some high performance team members were sometimes carried away by the roles they had taken, such as the intense drive of “Mrs. Winn” as compared with the thoughtful concern of “Mr. Meaning.”
The critical turn in mindful inquiry process led Dinwiddie to examine the political/economic setting in which high performance teams operate. They came into prominence and importance in American corporate life with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This international pact forced American companies into a highly competitive mode with foreign companies who were not restricted by the costs of United States’ environmental protection laws, safety and health laws, and minimum wages. Resulting downsizing, the rapid cut-backs in positions from the highest to the lowest levels, became a trend in American life in the 1990s with dire consequences for employees and their families. Workers at all levels, including management, were expected to work long hours and unrealistic expectations to avoid being among those many hundreds of thousands who were downsized. While this analysis may seem politically loaded, the effects on people’s lives were real. The mindful inquirer must not disregard these real effects.
Skills of the Twenty-first Century Scholar-Practitioner
The mindful scholar-practitioner must be aware of the economic/political/social/cultural and ecological situation in which practice is occurring. The MS-P must be fluent with sociological theories which give insight into the way elements in the social system are connected. Organizational change theories and group dynamics are also important parts of the repertoire of the MS-P, who must also understand the nature of human development and theories of psychological adaptations and maladaptations. The MS-P must be a competent philosopher, epistemologist, and ethicist. In addition, he must be aware of how his presentation of self as an embodied self is essential for successful practice and how the embodied presences of others also affect these outcomes. The MS-P must have a high level of self awareness and self understanding so that she knows when and how to use herself to effect positive outcomes. The processes of mindful inquiry are a guide or road map for the twenty-first century scholar-practitioner.
Backhaus (forthcoming) summarizes the skills and perspectives of the mindful scholar-practitioner:
The 21st century Mindful scholar-practitioner is sensitively aware of the multifarious cultural and intellectual/academic transformations that have received the appellation, postmodern, and keenly appraised of the multiplication of perspectives and methods in academic research. . .she nurtures open-minded, but critically engaged personalities toward changes in thinking and being as they occur. . . She has background in continental thought, as well as Buddhist, and various cultural perspectives. Given the historical ethnocentrism of American thought and culture, this means that the mindful scholar-practitioner has experienced being marginalized as a human/social scientist. The mindful scholar-practitioner works from a cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary basis. She has been able to resist the almost ubiquitous arrogance of positivism and the ideology of scientism by practicing with a deep awareness of philosophical problems and tacit commitments. She rejects the scientific prerequisite of partitioning fact and value. We should not take the mindful scholar-practitioner’s achievements lightly. They mark an idiographical, transformational outcome that is objectivated as a new legitimization for human science pedagogy and practice.
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I wish to thank Dr. Jeremy Shapiro, colleague, friend and co-author of Mindful Inquiry in Social Research. My colleagues on the faculty and students in the Human and Organization Development Program at the Fielding Institute allow the scholar-practitioner model to develop and flourish. I also wish to thank my husband, Dr. Stephen Figler for help with editing the manuscript. I greatly appreciate the assistance of Jan Schaumberg with manuscript preparation.
 I have altered identifying information in examples.
“Lifeworld” is a concept of phenomenology which means the whole world of everyday life experience. See (Schutz, 1976)
To avoid the awkward constructions “he/she” or “she/he”, depersonalized plural pronouns, or a prescriptive “we and our” to avoid gender bias, I use “she” and “he” alternatively in the text.
 This is a current development along the lines begun in the 1970’s by researchers such as Gunter Gross (Max Plank Institute and University of North Texas. who built neuro-networks out of electrical currents, plant and animals cells, and computer chips.