The North American Western European Cultural Studies Essay

Student Number: N0461490

Name: Tianmeng Feng

Tutor: Amanda Smith

Date of Submission: 13/02/2013

Word count: 1872

Contents

Summary………………………………………………………………………………3

Introduction………………………….…………………………………………….4

Transforming From Multidisciplinary Team into Transdisciplinary Team..............5

The Use of Historical and Philosophical Methodology……...……………...5

Choosing the Historical Events..............................................................6

With the Guidance from the Philosophical Methodology......................6

Ideology and Perspective of Human Security and Environmental Change Scholar………………………………………………………………………7

The International and Multicultural Assistance – The Link between East and West………………………………………………………………………….7

Media, Linguistic, Politics, Publicities and Propagandas – Transformed into Transdisciplinary Team……………………………………………………...8

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………..10

Bibliography………………………………………………………………………….11

Appendix: The Research Proposal PowerPoint Presentation……………..………….13

Summary

Academic studies requires not only the skills and understandings comes from a specific field of study, but also the collaboration and cooperation of the interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and even transdisciplinary methodologies. However, it is only possible for rare people who have enough energy and intelligence to study in different fields and disciplines. Therefore, the collaboration of scholars specialised in different courses, disciplines and even cultures.

Introduction

This report aims to evaluate the experience of working within a transdisciplinary team with the objective of developing a research proposal on the theme of dissent. It will also illustrate how this transdisciplinary team was transformed from a multidisciplinary team. The transdisciplinary team included four students: Matthew Eccles, a young scholar specialised in the field of Human Security & Environmental Change; Verity James, a young philosopher with accurate woman-intuition; Stacey Griffiths, a very talented historian perfectly combined with her deliberate ability of planning; and I, Tianmeng Feng, a young, Chinese origin historian who was specialised in inter-cultural communication back in the Beijing International Studies University and also has experienced the different ideology and culture between the East and West. The research was divided into two periods by the transformation of the methodology, the multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary period. In order to maximise the specialties and skills of each member of the transdisciplinary team, we choose to study the movement of dissent between the East and West. And eventually, we decided to answer the question "Does the North American/Western European media representations of dissent suggest that dissent manifests itself from the political ‘left’?" This research project will specifically examine the role of the media in relation to dissent and how the media’s political affiliation might influence portrayals of acts of dissent. In particular this research project will survey what the political left in exploring the nature of dissent.

Transforming From Multidisciplinary Team into Transdisciplinary Team

Rome was not built in a day, they say. Multidisciplinary team is defined as a group composed of or combining several usually separate branches of learning or fields of expertise. It can be reached by the collaboration of experts in different disciplinary. With their own research methods and ideologies, the experts in the multidisciplinary team would be able to conduct the research thoroughly in their own field. And the outcomes of their research would be concentrated and analysed during the teamwork. This kind of research methodology preserves the depth and identity of the outcomes of each discipline’s own research. Nevertheless, it also limits the horizon of the research.

The research methodology of transdiciplinary is not easy to reach at the period of beginning. It could be defined as a team composed of members of a number of different professions cooperating across disciplines to improve patient care through practice or research. By crossing the boundaries of subjects and disciplines, researchers are enabled to reach the field of the related fields and enrich their knowledge by accessing the ideologies and methodologies of other fields. Transdisciplinary methodology requires more than knowing the knowledge of the related subjects and courses. It also requires the understanding and comprehending of the ideology of different disciplines. Thus, interdisciplinary research is a foundation of multidisciplinary research, and these two research methods constitute the foundation of the transdisciplinary research methodology.

2.1 The Use of Historical and Philosophical Methodology

As for the research project related to dissent, we chose to answer the question "do the North American/Western European media representations of dissent suggest that dissent manifests itself from the political ‘left’?" It requires not only the support from the record of historical events, but also the perspective of philosophical analysis.

2.1.1 Choosing the Historical Event

Historical event are always the very basis of humanity researches. With historical case study, researchers are able to understand the whole view of the past; and also enabled researchers to find solid evidence. In the first stage of preparation of the project proposal, we are once separated into sides, the violent and non-violent dissent of people in different countries. Unlike the UK, revolutions in the Eastern Empire of China have a tradition of bloodbath. Back in the old days, the rise and fall of dynasties in China cost wealth, resources, but mostly flesh and blood, not only the emperors and soldiers, but also the reformers and revolutionist. Thus, I chose to dig into the most recent revolution in China, the Protests of Tiananmen Square. Verity James at last dug into the France May 1968, which is also the example of violent dissent movement. On the contrary, Stacey Griffiths and Matthew Eccles decided to study the non-violent dissent movement. And they then focused on the study of origins of occupy movement and the rise of Methodism in the UK.

2.1.2 With the Guidance from the Philosophical Methodology

Philosophy studies manly on the methodologies. During Study in the level of MA, philosophical students will have to learn to appreciate the history of philosophy while adopting their own independent development of relevant themes, concepts and interpretations of key social and cultural artifacts. In the process of preparing our own study of violent/non-violent movement we insensibly adopt the methodology of philosophy. After a few meetings, we decided to examine the research question from a post-structuralist perspective by giving the various resources examined a multifaceted analysis, taking into consideration the positionality of each researcher. We also used a neo-Marxist point of view to uncover the class structures in relation to dissent. At last we agreed that we would examine the research question from a rationalist and empirical perspective in the future, discovering the inner cause of the dissent and the motive of the ideological repression.

2.2 Ideology and Perspective of Human Security and Environmental Change Scholar

Human security and environmental change is a new subject to me. With the help of Matthew Eccles, the ideology and perspective of human security and environmental change had smoothed our project with its essence of modification, spiritual need and dissent. The twin issues of this discipline are interconnected and complex. Though environmental change studies mainly about changes in atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere; the ideology of change and modification are one of the essences of the study of humanity and sociology. Human security, focuses on issues associated with human rights, basic needs, democracy, citizenship, etc. which is a study of peoples’ physical and spiritual needs; however consider the situation of China and other third-world country, the spiritual needs of people requires more attentions. The usages of the discipline embed more humanistic concern into the research of our project.

2.3 The International and Multicultural Assistance – The Link between East and West

As a Chinese origin student born in Beijing, the city as the political center of China, I am equipped the sensation and special instinct of political. Growing up in the atmosphere of post-1989 period, I to some extend witnessed the imprisoning of thoughts and ideologies, the purge of history and philosophy, and the suppressing of the will of people. In the process of digging in the Protests of Tiananmen Square, I went back to China for three weeks to search the first-handed evidences and records of the witnesses and even participants of the Protests of Tiananmen Square. The Study of dissent requires more than solid evidences, it also requires the assistance and support of the "silent archives".

Different culture nurtured different ideology. With the help of the awareness of humanistic concern, the traditional Chinese methodology, ideology and perspective were also gradually accepted and concerned in the team which is in the process of transformation. Considering of the international perspective and intercultural concerns, the methodology of multidisciplinary research finally revealed its weakness of cognising the inner relations between different cultures. Therefore, we decided to access a more thorough approach which eventually transformed our multidisciplinary team into a transdisciplinary team eventually. And the hypothesis of the thesis statement was also raised at this period: Challenging the default position in the West that dissent always comes from the ‘left’. An exploration of the ‘inversion’ of Left/Right in China in contrast to the political representation of acts of dissent in the West.

2.4 Media, Linguistic, Politics, Publicities and Propagandas – Transformed into Transdisciplinary Team

Transdisciplinary research is more like a combination of melting pot and mosaic. It allows researchers to keep their own identities and ideologies, whilst "taste" and "savor" the essence and spirit of other disciplines with their own experiences and even positionalities. It enabled researchers to dig as deep as possible with all the assistance from various angles and perspectives of all related and supportive fields.

In our research, except for the disciplines we are specialised in, we also use the disciplines of media studies and politics to overcome the limits of our respective disciplines. In the process of transdisciplinary research, researchers are required to adopt the methodologies, ideologies and perspectives of all related disciplines and cultures. We soon found the difference between Western and Chinese media. Due to the difference between the Western and Eastern language system, we analyse and re-defined the word Media and its Chinese practical meaning "媒体" linguistically. And we find that media means differently. Media means mainly and practically propaganda in China, while means publicity in the West. We then defined the meaning of political "Left/Right", the meaning of areas of "the West/ East" geographically, and eventually the essence of "dissent".

According to the resources and analysis we obtained, we consummate and perfect our research area specifically. The research project will specifically examine the role of the media in relation to dissent and how the media’s political affiliation might influence portrayals of acts of dissent. In particular this research project will survey what the political left in exploring the nature of dissent.

In the last few meetings before the preparing of the presentation, we divided the methodology into two parts, qualitative and quantitative. We would focus on how the social world is interpreted throughout the research. Then, we would interviews of the people involved in and affected by these movements, and pay attention to credibility, reliability and their position. The quality of these resources would be categorised and assessed before we use them.

In order to avoid the risks of our positionality and position of the specific researched acts of dissents and the possible effect on the outcomes of the research, regular briefs and debriefs would be necessary. We would also linguistically analyse the key words in media representation and statistically analyse the volumes of people involved in each act of dissent.

With the assistance from different perspectives and ideologies of the related disciplines, the project proposal were nearly as rigour and meticulous as possible.

We prepare the research proposal during the last three meetings. We gathered the resources we had and separate the PowerPoint based on our specialties. We make a preliminary research schedule and also roughly evaluate the finance the project required.

Conclusion

Transforming from a multidisciplinary team to a transdisciplinary team is not only a process of conducting a specific research. It also develops new approaches and methodologies of solving problems of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and even transdisciplinary research. In the future study of dissent, we would truly make our original contribution to knowledge and open doors for further research and a potential practical application of this research in acts of dissent.

Working as a transdisciplinary team also requires brave and principle. Understanding the ideology and mentality of other disciplines may slightly affect your self-awareness of your own identity. Though the methodology avoids the influences of positionality, it may also reduce the depth you are able to dig in your own specialty.

However, this is the first time we work as a transdisciplinary team, and we also have our weakness in the process of making transdisciplinary research. We did not make a detailed and particular calculation, quantitative scale of our interview or the specific media. The mistakes will be avoided by our more detailed and careful work in the future researches of our own fields.

Successful transdiscipilinary teamwork is actually a collaboration and communication of different methodologies and ideologies. With our international multi/transdisciplinary horizon and research methods, we achieve the sketch and plan of the further research. In addition, a new revelation of the specialties of each member of the team will also be illustrated in the process of conducting the transdisciplinary research.