Constructing a formbild - An inquiry into the dynamical and hierarchical aspects of the hermeneutical filters controlling the formbild construction in design education situations
Doctoral thesis, Peer reviewed
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Original versionGulliksen, M.S. Constructing a formbild - An inquiry into the dynamical and hierarchical aspects of the hermeneutical filters controlling the formbild construction in design education situations. PhD Thesis, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, 2006
The aim of this study is to contribute new knowledge of how a formbild is constructed in an educational situation. This knowledge is needed for understanding more clearly the circumstances under which we are teaching quality of form within the fields of art and design. A formbild is a neologism introduced in this study and defined as “a set of principles for judgement form quality”. This set of principles is said to be constructed by the individual as maker and observer of form in social settings. It is a socio-constructive and relational approach to form studies, which views the various definitions of ‘good form’ in society and culture as positions in discourses about form, rather than something inherent in the artefacts or individuals themselves. The theories of Bourdieu and Foucault form the main theoretical foundation for this approach. Latour’s anthropological method (1987) of describing the construction of scientific facts is, combined with Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (2003), used to describe the construction of the formbilds. The empirical data used to study this construction were educational situations at university colleges teaching students becoming teachers in the Norwegian school subject Arts and Crafts (Kunst og håndverk). The tension between what is new (internal) and what is transferred (external) (Gelernter 1995), was seen as a possible driving force for the formbild construction, and assumed to be especially explicit within the educational situations. The analysis of the empirical material described the formbild constructive mechanisms and its limitations divided into two aspects: dynamical aspects and hierarchical aspects. The dynamical aspects are the actual constructive mechanisms, that is, the movement in positioning: selection, development/stabilising and cementing of formbild. The hierarchical aspects are the framework around these mechanisms: what controlled this dynamic. These two aspects are referred to as hermeneutical filters, because they filter our interpretations of what is possible to construct. The analysis yielded several findings. There was found a clear dynamic in the communication concerning form, converging towards the teachers’ position. Though not a surprising finding given the educational circumstances, it was unanticipated that the dynamic was so strong, since the teachers activated their role differently in the two cases: “There is no set answer” vs. “We have a formbild and we wish to communicate it clearly”. Given that to participate in a situation is to invest in the rules of this situation, and that if the conditions and demands of this situation are unclear they may function more limiting than if they are clearly stated, this led to the conclusion that the role activations in the situations were subordinate to the role expectations, hence neutralising the teachers’ activation. This could explain the mentioned strength of the dynamic. Through the exploration of these findings and the separation of the hermeneutical filters into dynamical and hierarchical aspects, the study yielded detailed knowledge on how the formbild construction in the empirical material was controlled by the Arts and Craft educative situation.