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The aesthetic rationality of the popular expressive arts: Lifeworld communication among breast cancer survivors living with lymphedema.

Quinlan E, Thomas R, Ahmed S, Fichtner P, McMullen L, Block J - Soc Theory Health (2014)

Bottom Line: The findings point to the unique non-linguistic discursivity of these non-institutional artistic forms as their liberating power to disclose silenced human needs: the images 'spoke' for themselves for group members to recognize shared subjectivities.The authenticity claims inherent in the art forms fostered collective reflexivity and spontaneous, affective responses and compelled the group to create new collective understandings of the experience of living with lymphedema.The article contributes theoretical insights regarding the emancipatory potential of aesthetic-expressive rationality, an under-developed area of Habermasian theory of communicative action, and to the burgeoning literature on arts-based methods in social scientific research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan , Saskatoon, SK, Canada , S7N 5A5.

ABSTRACT
The use of popular expressive arts as antidotes to the pathologies of the parallel processes of lifeworld colonization and cultural impoverishment has been under-theorized. This article enters the void with a project in which breast cancer survivors used collages and installations of everyday objects to solicit their authentic expression of the psycho-social impacts of lymphedema. The article enlists Jurgen Habermas' communicative action theory to explore the potential of these expressive arts to expand participants' meaningful engagement with their lifeworlds. The findings point to the unique non-linguistic discursivity of these non-institutional artistic forms as their liberating power to disclose silenced human needs: the images 'spoke' for themselves for group members to recognize shared subjectivities. The authenticity claims inherent in the art forms fostered collective reflexivity and spontaneous, affective responses and compelled the group to create new collective understandings of the experience of living with lymphedema. The article contributes theoretical insights regarding the emancipatory potential of aesthetic-expressive rationality, an under-developed area of Habermasian theory of communicative action, and to the burgeoning literature on arts-based methods in social scientific research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Sleeve installation.
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fig1: Sleeve installation.

Mentions: In the post-workshop interviews, the women reflected on the communicative power of the art forms used in the workshops. ‘When we did the collages and you got together and it amazed me how people had put such thought and pulled symbols that hit you immediately. … how people chose to express themselves … they told stories … it hit you with all your senses because it was visual, there was audio, you could feel it'. (A#3). The images of the collages and installations made it possible for the women to express the unsayable. The images ‘spoke' for themselves, some quite loudly. Some images were quite literal, which strengthened their representational power. When assembling her installation at home (Figure 1), one participant recalled asking herself, ‘How do I see my life now?' She turned to compression sleeves, which she thought ‘are so icky, so maybe I should put a couple of my new sleeves on there. But then I thought, “No, this is what it's like. They get this way'. Therefore, the installation is ‘like hanging up my dirty laundry. My life every day. It's thinking about my boob, what I'm going to wear today, how I can make it comfortable … every day I'm reminded of cancer … . The installation is what life is, represented by the icky sleeves, and what it would have been but can't be anymore, represented by the new sleeves'.


The aesthetic rationality of the popular expressive arts: Lifeworld communication among breast cancer survivors living with lymphedema.

Quinlan E, Thomas R, Ahmed S, Fichtner P, McMullen L, Block J - Soc Theory Health (2014)

Sleeve installation.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4119252&req=5

fig1: Sleeve installation.
Mentions: In the post-workshop interviews, the women reflected on the communicative power of the art forms used in the workshops. ‘When we did the collages and you got together and it amazed me how people had put such thought and pulled symbols that hit you immediately. … how people chose to express themselves … they told stories … it hit you with all your senses because it was visual, there was audio, you could feel it'. (A#3). The images of the collages and installations made it possible for the women to express the unsayable. The images ‘spoke' for themselves, some quite loudly. Some images were quite literal, which strengthened their representational power. When assembling her installation at home (Figure 1), one participant recalled asking herself, ‘How do I see my life now?' She turned to compression sleeves, which she thought ‘are so icky, so maybe I should put a couple of my new sleeves on there. But then I thought, “No, this is what it's like. They get this way'. Therefore, the installation is ‘like hanging up my dirty laundry. My life every day. It's thinking about my boob, what I'm going to wear today, how I can make it comfortable … every day I'm reminded of cancer … . The installation is what life is, represented by the icky sleeves, and what it would have been but can't be anymore, represented by the new sleeves'.

Bottom Line: The findings point to the unique non-linguistic discursivity of these non-institutional artistic forms as their liberating power to disclose silenced human needs: the images 'spoke' for themselves for group members to recognize shared subjectivities.The authenticity claims inherent in the art forms fostered collective reflexivity and spontaneous, affective responses and compelled the group to create new collective understandings of the experience of living with lymphedema.The article contributes theoretical insights regarding the emancipatory potential of aesthetic-expressive rationality, an under-developed area of Habermasian theory of communicative action, and to the burgeoning literature on arts-based methods in social scientific research.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan , Saskatoon, SK, Canada , S7N 5A5.

ABSTRACT
The use of popular expressive arts as antidotes to the pathologies of the parallel processes of lifeworld colonization and cultural impoverishment has been under-theorized. This article enters the void with a project in which breast cancer survivors used collages and installations of everyday objects to solicit their authentic expression of the psycho-social impacts of lymphedema. The article enlists Jurgen Habermas' communicative action theory to explore the potential of these expressive arts to expand participants' meaningful engagement with their lifeworlds. The findings point to the unique non-linguistic discursivity of these non-institutional artistic forms as their liberating power to disclose silenced human needs: the images 'spoke' for themselves for group members to recognize shared subjectivities. The authenticity claims inherent in the art forms fostered collective reflexivity and spontaneous, affective responses and compelled the group to create new collective understandings of the experience of living with lymphedema. The article contributes theoretical insights regarding the emancipatory potential of aesthetic-expressive rationality, an under-developed area of Habermasian theory of communicative action, and to the burgeoning literature on arts-based methods in social scientific research.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus